A new deal on the Toshka project to be finalised

Gamal Essam Eddin, Sunday 22 May 2011

The long-awaited agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture and Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal’s company will be signed at last on 31 May

According to senior officials, the Egyptian government will sign a new contract on 31 May with the Kingdom Agricultural Development Company (KADC), owner of the mega-agricultural reclamation project of Toshka in Upper Egypt. The signing ceremony will be attended by KADC’s owner Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal and Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.

According to KADC’s legal adviser Mohamed Sami Gamal El-Din, the company owned by the multi-billionaire Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal will give up 75,000 feddans of the Toshka project land, retain 10,000 feddans and be entitled to utilise 15,000 feddans.  (A feddan is roughly an acre). Gamal El-Din added that KADC will pay LE5 million for the 10,000 feddans over five years, after which time the company will be entitled to utilise each feddan for LE50.

El-Din said KADC and the Ministry of Agriculture also agreed they would resort to international arbitration to resolve any future disputes, as specified in Egypt’s 2006 law governing private investment projects.

Minister of Agriculture Ayan Abu Hadid said: “The signing of the contract is a great achievement and I think it will send a very positive signal to Arab and foreign investors that Egypt’s January 25 Revolution does not adopt aggressive positions against them.”

Abu Hadid indicated that after settling disputes, Bin Talal’s KADC would be entitled to utilise 15,000 feddans for a limited period of five years, meaning that it would be permitted to reclaim the land against LE50 per feddan.  He said: “We agreed this arrangement would help KADC a lot in going ahead with reclaiming the land and completing its agricultural development projects in the Toshka mega project in a more serious way.”

KADC has previously accused the Egyptian government of stalling on the signing of the new contract. In response, information media accused Bin Talal of signing an illegal agreement during the reign of ousted president Hosni Mubarak by which he became owner of 100,000 feddans of land in Toshka at the expense of local investors. He was also accused of not doing much work on reclaiming the land. KADC reclaimed just five thousand feddans in 15 years. 

Media reports stressed that on orders of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, Bin Talal was exempt from punishment for failing to reclaim the required 100,000 feddans in Toshka. Public pressure forced the government to amend the contract with Bin Talal and reach the new agreement. Bin Talal said that “he is fond of Egypt and will do everything possible to keep his investments there.”

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