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Egypt will launch a scheme on Mar 24 to reduce its budget deficit by selling plots of land near Cairo to Egyptians living abroad, the housing minister said on Mar 20, with the aim of raising $15 billion over four years. The deficit has widened since last year’s popular uprising hammered the economy, cut tax revenue and led to demands for higher salaries and more benefits. The government has forecast a budget deficit of 144 billion Egyptian pounds ($23.9 billion) in the fiscal year to June 30, about 8.7 percent of gross domestic product.

Housing Minister Fathi Abdelaziz el-Baradei told reporters the government planned to offer an initial 8,000 plots in at least two satellite cities near Cairo via a website, and said Egyptians living abroad would be able to reserve the plots as of Mar 24. They include 800 square meter lots in Sheikh Zayed City that the government will sell for $675 per square meter and 400 square meter lots in Badr City for $250 per square meter. The government said in a 10-page economic plan it sent to parliament this month that it hoped to raise as much as $15 billion from the land sales over four years.

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