Egypt forms commission to resolve land disputes

Ahram Online, Sunday 8 Jan 2012

Instead of turning to international arbitration, the government creates a special commission to look into land disputes with investors

Egypt's government has formed a settlement commission to look into disputes with private companies instead of resorting to international arbitration; Minister of Planning Fayza Aboul Naga was quoted as saying in the state-run daily Al-Ahram.

The commission, headed by Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri and featuring four ministers, is currently looking into disputes between the government and 17 companies, Aboul Naga indicated on Saturday.

She added that the commission will attempt to formulate a solution for Egypt's chronic land allocation problems, which entails compensating the state for the difference in the land's value without confiscation.

Many real estate developers have faced legal action disputing their ownership of state lands amid claims it allocated to them cheaply due to corruption among officials in Hosni Mubarak's regime. Affected firms includes A-list developers such as Talaat Mostafa Group, Palm Hills Development and Amer group.

The settlement commission kicked off its activities by approving the resolution of disputes with Dubai’s Damac Properties Co., Majid Al-Futtaim Group and El-Ayat co., Aboul Naga added.

The proposed resolutions will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval. Damac and Al-Futtaim Group will accordingly pay the government in kind and in cash to compensate for the difference in land value.

Damac had filed an arbitration lawsuit in Washington against Egypt in 2011 after the government confiscated land it had purchased in 2006. Similarly, Al-Futtaim group had threatened to resort to international courts after the government attempted to seize land it acquired in 1997.

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