Egypt to end subsidies to building violators on agricultural lands

Ahram Online , Thursday 10 Feb 2022

Egypt will stop providing all forms of state subsidies, including subsidised bread, rationing system, and fertilisers to those constructing new buildings illegally on farmland, in a new bid to put a brake on the decades-old issue, the cabinet stated.

arable land
Official statistics estimates there have been a 1.2 million cases of violations on arable land in the last three years.(Photo: Al-Ahram)

During a cabinet meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Madbouly directed officials to prepare a draft law to impose tougher penalties on violators, including confiscating the illegal buildings and imposing hefty fines.

Madbouly also called for imposing punishments on contractors of illegal buildings, the statement added.

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi first proposed denying those who abuse agricultural lands access to government subsidies during an inauguration ceremony of a water treatment plant in September, where he also warned that the army will intervene to remove such violations if necessary.

Egypt continues to crack down on illegal construction across cities and villages, a phenomena that has dramatically surged in recent years, with thousands of buildings demolished recently.

In September 2020, Madbouly said Egypt lost up to 400,000 feddans between 1980 to 2011, and an additional 90,000 over the past nine years.

The cost of reclaiming one feddan is between EGP 150,000 and EGP 200,000, and that the reclamation of 90,000 feddans costs up to EGP 18 billion (about $1.15 billion), according to Madbouly.

During Thursday's meeting, both agriculture and local development ministries agreed to form a central committee to follow up other designated subcommittees across the country's 27 governorates to remove the violations.

The government is working to protect the rights of future generations and therefore will no longer allow any small patch of agricultural land to be lost once again, Madbouly told the cabinet members.

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