TMG resists proposal to purchase land at marked-up prices

The Talaat Mustafa Group (TMG), owner of land earmarked for the Madinaty urban development project, welcomed recommendations made by a government committee on Wednesday but rejected the recommendation that it pay marked-up prices for the land in question.

The committee was drawn up with a government mandate to resolve the dispute over land for the project, which was not sold via auction–as is stipulated by laws regulating the sale of state-owned land–but rather by direct government order.

The committee recommended that the Urban Development Authority (UDA) withdraw the land from TMG before reselling it to the same company under a different law, which allows for the sale of state-owned land by direct order to squatters in the event that the latter had developed the property in question.

The committee, however, recommended that the land be resold at a higher price than that for which it was originally sold to the company.

TMG, however, has expressed its refusal to buy the land at higher prices.

“We agreed to give 7 percent of the total value of the project's housing units to the government for free. This should be sufficient,” said TMG legal adviser Hamdi Lashin. “This is even more than what the Housing Ministry received in one of its auctions in 2005.”

Lashin went on to say that TMG owner Talaat Mustafa, who is currently on trial for his alleged involvement in the 2008 murder of a Lebanese pop singer, had been "deeply saddened" by the court's earlier ruling to invalidate the project’s contract. “But he was quite pleased by the committee’s recommendations,” Lashin said.

Meanwhile, Hamdi al-Fakharani, who had filed the original lawsuit against the contract, has filed a second suit in which he accused the committee of bias.

“The UDA vice president was a member of the committee,” al-Fakharani told Reuters. “How can it be impartial if one of its members represents the plaintiff?”

Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, for his part, said the Council of Ministers planned to discuss the committee’s recommendations on Sunday.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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