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Library Country Study on Status of Land Tenure, Planning and Management in Oriental Near East Countries

Country Study on Status of Land Tenure, Planning and Management in Oriental Near East Countries

Country Study on Status of Land Tenure, Planning and Management in Oriental Near East Countries

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November 2012
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The share of agriculture in the GDP declined from 16 percent in the 1990s to almost 14 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, those employed in agriculture as a percent of total labor force is declining since 1960 to 2006. Despite losing labor and share of the GDP, agriculture is, and will continue to be, among the major economic activities in Egypt, and a generator for economic growth. The balance between agriculture and other productive sectors of the economy require proper spatial and land use planning. Land tenure is central to this planning exercise. Land property right is the result of common factors, such as occupation and religion i.e. Islam, and agro-climatic conditions. Land property rights are multiple and complex. They are inherited from pre-Islamic rules (Orf), Islamic (Sharia) and colonial as well as post-colonial legislation. All these rules are co-existed. There are number of land status (regimes) such as private ownership (melk), collective land (waqf). Also there is a dichotomy (rural-urban).Land policy formulation and management in Egypt have been transforming in close association with institutional transformations. Since the Ottomans, to Mohamed Ali, to the Nasser‟s regime, and ending by the Mubarak administration, each period of time had its dogma and accordingly its land tenure systems. Today, Egypt has investment opportunities map till 2017 that defines land uses for the overall development. Today there are number of institutions responsible for planning the uses of this land and the mechanism to transfer the ownership of this land.The land question can be framed in the current status of dwarf and fragmented holdings. This is the result of complicated procedures to secure property right, inheritance, and increased prices and/or rents per unit of land used for agricultural or non-agricultural uses. Consequences include persisted rural poverty, violent disputes as a result of increased population densities and informality. The impacts are a multitude of economic inefficiency and idle land markets.Laws and regulations that govern land markets come in ten sets of groups. Islamic, customary and civic laws co-exist next to each other. The institutional framework that governs land markets need serious transformations including, but not limited to, redefining the mission and mandate of public bodies responsible for land distribution and sectoral development, and adopting principles of good governance.For perfectly competitive land markets, there is a need for updated cadastral and registry of land by which each parcel of land has a national identification number. The registry has to include specification of each parcel, information concerning the owner(s), sub-divisions, etc. Aside of these corrective and preventive measures, there is a need for a wide range of supportive measures. Educating and enlightening the public with their rights and means to access land is essential for perfectly competitive markets. Applying taxes on wind-fall gains is another measure to control freezing savings and money in the form of land and vacant dwellings. Also levying an annual tax on unused land and closed dwellings is prone to divert money needed for investment away and curb the tendency to speculative practices. This recommendation is in line with Islamic Shariya where the owners of utilized assets, in the form of land, gold, real estate, etc. have to pay 2.5 percent of its assessed value in the form of zakat. This recommendation will free frozen assets, and will avail money for investment that can generate employment opportunities.

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