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Sunday, 13 March 2022

Cabinet okays harsher penalties under crackdown of building on farmland

Harsher penalties will be introduced for illegally building on agricultural land under amendments to the Agriculture Act approved by the Cabinet during its weekly meeting on Thursday, it said in a statement. Those convicted will be banned from receiving government food subsidies, and will face jail terms ranging from two to five years as well as fines between EGP 500k and EGP 10 mn. Contractors involved in illegal farmland building would also be subject to jail terms of two to five years and jail terms ranging from EGP 100k to EGP 3 mn. Almost 500 people have already had subsidies taken away from them for encroaching on agricultural land in recent weeks. The changes are part of the government’s efforts to curb agricultural land encroachment, with other construction regulations designed to downsize illegal construction applied in recent years nationwide.

SMEs will also be getting an additional one-year grace period to join the formal economy after Cabinet extended the timeline set out in the SMEs Act. The extension aims to “allow informal businesses to regulate their status to integrate in the formal economy.” The recently-ratified law includes tax and non-tax incentives to support SMEs to join the formal economy, including tax markdowns at a rate of 1% of the total growth in sales a single SME manages to achieve in a given year.

Also approved during Thursday’s meeting:

  • The executive regulations of the Clinical Research Act, which the House of Representatives approved in 2020;
  • Proposals from unnamed private companies to set up 5 MW solar power plants in Sharm El-Sheikh under a buy-own-operate (BOO) framework;
  • A South Korean grant signed in January to help finance the government’s electronic procurement system.

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