Egypt's parliament – the House of Representatives – voted Tuesday in favor of amending a controversial law on regulating the registration and documentation of real estate property in public notarisation offices.
The vote came one day after President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered the delay of implementing the law for at least two years.
El-Sisi also asked that an article, that required citizens who wish to register their properties to pay a 2.5 percent disposal tax, be scrapped and replaced by a reduced flat fee.
El-Sisi's directives were put up for discussion in an urgent meeting held by parliament's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee on Tuesday morning.
A report prepared by the committee recommended that MPs vote in favor of delaying the implementation of the Real Estate Registration Law (law 186/2020) to 30 June 2023.
The law, approved by parliament in August 2020, was scheduled to go into effect next Saturday (6 March).
MPs also approved amending article 42 of the income tax law (law 91/2005) to abolish a 2.5 percent disposal tax. As a result, citizens will no longer be obliged to pay the tax as a pre-condition to be able to get access to electricity, water and natural gas services.
The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Alaa Fouad told MPs that the law's stipulation that citizens must also pay a one percent fee to the syndicate of lawyers - to have their properties registered - is illegal. "Anyhow, we will discuss this percent in detail when we hold a national dialogue with the objective of preparing a new Real Estate Registration law within the next two years," said Fouad, adding that "we hope by the end of the two-year grace period that we will prepare a new integrated law on real estate registration."
The Parliamentary Spokesperson of the Mostaqbal Watan party Ashraf Rashad, said that President El-Sisi's intervention to amend the law came to serve the interests of citizens. "The president asked to delay the implementation of the law for two years to have time to hold a national dialogue that should lead to drafting a new one, meeting the interests of the people," said Rashad, indicating that "the law in its earlier form caused a lot of concern among citizens because it imposed a lot of financial burdens and complicated measures."
Rashad asked the government to be more careful in preparing future legislations. "We hope that the government and ministries show more care and discipline in drafting legislations so that we do not face such crises and not give the opportunity to hostile forces [to] exploit such crises to cause harm to our country."