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Did the Egyptians win their battle against the Land Registry Law?

Similar to the law of reconciliation in building violations, the Egyptian authority has stepped back, not one but two steps, with regard to the law on real estate registration.

The latest law, days before its implementation, which was scheduled for the sixth of this month, sparked a large wave of rejection and popular anger, whether in the Egyptian street or on social media.

However, after the popular anger and discontent reached its level, the authority seemed to be thinking of retreating, and the matter began with news of the willingness of MPs in Parliament to propose a new amendment to the law, before the Egyptian government announced on Sunday evening a step back by postponing the implementation of the law until the end of this year.

Not only that from the side of the authority, as it returned after one day to intervene, but this time through its highest levels, as President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi requested an extension of the delay in implementing the law to two years.

A statement issued by the Egyptian presidency added on Monday evening that Sisi directed the implementation of the law to be postponed for a transitional period of no less than two years, with the aim of providing an opportunity and time for a societal dialogue, while the government prepares a draft law to achieve that delay.

But Sisi’s decision, which was met with great acclaim from the media in support of the authority immediately after its issuance, involved a bombed aspect, as he also requested that the tax be replaced by payment of other fees (he did not specify), and that during that transitional period, a fixed, reduced and clear fixed value be collected when registering properties according to area and type. Ownership, in lieu of the tax imposed in this regard on real estate transactions.

Supporters and opponents of the regime welcomed Sisi’s decision, but each party differed in explaining the reason behind its adoption, and while the supporters considered it a response to the people’s demands and standing by it, the opponents considered it a submission to their pressure and a victory for their efforts in opposing it.

Security concerns

Informed sources said that there are security and intelligence reports submitted to the presidency warning of the growing anger of the Egyptian street at the new law because of the large financial burdens that citizens will bear in order to register their units in the real estate month.

The source, who preferred not to be named, explained that the reports feared a repeat of the September 2020 demonstrations that went out to protest against the deteriorating economic conditions, and the Reconciliation Law in Building Violations, which included the payment of exorbitant fees by citizens to avoid demolishing their homes for allegedly violating building requirements.

Legislative anarchy

Former member of the Housing Committee in the Egyptian Parliament, Azab Mostafa, described what is happening as “legislative chaos due to the absence of the judicial authority, as laws are passed without considering the extent of their agreement with the constitution. This is not evident from the volume of continuous amendments to these laws.”

In his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, he pointed out that laws such as reconciliation in construction violations and real estate issues collide with constitutional principles because they prevent citizens from connecting public facilities, which is an assault on private property, and that these laws were retroactive and destabilized conditions that were stable for decades. .

The correct step in order to reform this law, according to the former Egyptian parliamentarian, is to abolish it completely as if it had never been, especially since more than 95% of Egypt’s real estate is stable in this situation, in light of the conditions of the epidemic and the price tag, the real estate sector will suffer a major setback.

Collection or protection?

The common denominator of the two previous laws, and other similar laws, according to many activists and critics, is “collection” and collecting as much money as possible from the pockets of citizens in order to bridge the budget deficit exacerbated by the increasing debts.

On the government side, however, officials and supporters of the authority affirm that the goal is to protect “state rights” and its properties, legalize violations, regulate construction operations, monitor the quality of construction, achieve the greatest benefit for housing units, and prevent any disputes over them.

Minister of Justice Omar Marawan justified these laws by the state’s endeavor to secure citizens’ ownership of real estate wealth and maximize benefit from it, in addition to controlling and securing the real estate market, as well as eliminating unauthorized construction and slums.

The critics respond that the state obtained all its rights after doubling the fees for obtaining licenses and services such as water, sanitation, electricity, gas, insurance, roads, etc., and did not provide citizens with any support in light of the high prices of land and building materials.

They accused the authority, which has turned into a large contractor, of trying to tighten the screws on private real estate in favor of its huge real estate projects that it undertakes in more than one province and a new city, and promotes them, which include residential, administrative, commercial, entertainment, hotel and service buildings on vast areas.

According to Counselor Muhammad Suleiman, former president of the Sohag Court, the law is flawed, similar to the law of reconciliation in building violations, adding in statements to Al-Jazeera Net that the people have not yet got rid of the effects of the reconciliation law that has depleted their money, indicating that the goal is not to protect citizens’ property but to collect money. But the Egyptians ’anger frightened the regime.

According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, the number of buildings in Egypt for housing purposes is 13 million and 466 thousand buildings in the 2017 population census.

As soon as Sisi announced the postponement decision, social networking sites turned into arenas for praise and slander on the part of supporters and opponents, and it was more like “the night of the real estate month in Egypt,” where everyone breathed a sigh of relief with a law that no one welcomed.

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