Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has confirmed that the state has lost about 400,000 acres of agricultural land due to urban sprawl, adding that unplanned settlements represent almost 50% of total urban areas and villages in Egypt, Invest-Gate reports.

In a press conference on September 9, held in the attendance of several ministers, Madbouly further stated that 90,000 acres of the above-mentioned land were illegally occupied since 2011, soon after the January 25 uprising, according to a recent official statement.

As a result of unplanned construction on agricultural plots, the government has borne costs of EGP 150,000-200,000 to reclaim one acre of desert land as an alternate, meaning that EGP 18 bn is required to compensate for the 90 acres mistreated by the unrestricted growth in many urban areas, he noted.

According to the prime minister, Law Number 1 of 2020 stipulates reconciliation can be reached with the state to settle building code violations, with “seriousness fines” ranging from EGP 50 to EGP 2,000 per square meter. Applications shall be submitted within six months, ending on September 30, with a chance for one more extension.

In addition, fines can be paid in installments over three years, with no interest, Madbouly underlined, stressing that a discount ranging between 10-55% on reconciliation fees has been enforced to meet the income levels of all citizens. He also reiterated that the bill is not a punitive measure, but rather aims at improving the quality of life of Egyptians.

Earlier, Egypt’s parliament had given the preliminary approval for the draft law on reconciliation in building violations, which is expected to provide the government with roughly EGP 150 bn when issued, according to a previous statement.

Under the bill, proceeds shall be allocated to the public treasury as follows: 15% for Social Housing Fund and public developments, 30% for infrastructure projects, 7% for parking spaces, along with another 10% to wrench out violating buildings and a 3% to reward competent administrative authorities, the statement revealed.