Sunday, 6 June 2021

EnterprisePM — The executive regulations of the Unified Tax Act are here.



It’s the unofficial fiscal policy issue this afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, as a number of key Finance Ministry-drafted taxation and debt legislations see the light of day.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- The Finance Ministry issued the executive regulations of the Unified Tax Act, including guidelines on how the new tax platform will operate, and how you will be filing your state dues from now on. We have details in Speed Round below.

HAPPENING NOW- Are we soon getting our first sovereign sukuk issuances? The House of Representatives has given its initial sign off to the long-awaited Sovereign Sukuk Act in a plenary session today. This would pave the way for the government to begin issuing sovereign sukuk once the legislation makes it through. We have more details in the news well below.

We’re expecting inflation figures to be released by CAPMAS this week, and won’t be surprised to see an uptick in the month’s reading as global commodity prices continue spiking. Analysts have increasingly been penciling in heightened inflation “soon” as a result of the year-long commodities rally. Annual urban headline inflation unexpectedly slowed to 4.1% in April, after having risen to 4.8% in March and 4.5% in February.

We’re already feeling the boom in some sectors: State-owned Egyptalum was the latest to hike its prices by some EGP 2k this month, with its sales head and spokesperson, Ehab Al Elwany, citing a USD 150 per-tonne increase in global aluminum futures over the past two months — due to heavy purchasing by China — as the reason behind the decision, Al Mal reports. Wholesale aluminum sold at home now ranges between EGP 49-57k a tonne, up from EGP 47-55.5k in May, as the commodities boom hits everything from food to energy to key metals.

How will US inflation play into ours? We dive deeper into this in today’s Macro Picture.

** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:

  • Goldman says CBE could cut rates this month + reserves were up in May: The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) can afford to cut rates by as much as 50 bps at its meeting later this month without hurting its carry trade, Goldman Sachs said. Meanwhile, foreign currency reserves increased by almost USD 125 mn in May.
  • Goodbye, Brits. Hello, Russians: Egypt will be on the UK’s red list of countries as of 8 June due to concerns over new virus variants, while Russian airline Aeroflot says (for the umpteenth time) that flights from Russia will resume soon.
  • US to donate vaccines to Egypt: Egypt and 13 other “regional priority” countries will receive some 6 mn doses of covid-19 vaccines from the US, as part of a first batch of 25 mn doses, out of a total 80 mn doses the US plans to share with the world by the end of June.

Hani Sonbol, CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (IITFC), is in Cairo today for a five-day visit, according to a statement (pdf). He will attend the opening of new projects and initiatives carried out in cooperation with the Egyptian government. These include the “SheTrades” initiative that provides support for female entrepreneurs.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- China’s tech crackdown is topping coverage on the global business press today. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies dropped over the past day amid fears of additional clampdown by China on crypto after some of the industry’s influencer accounts were blocked on Chinese social media site Weibo, Bloomberg reports. A recent survey by Goldman Sachs Group says that institutional interest in crypto may have taken damage as a result of these repeated crackdowns. The price of BTC dropped so far by over USD 25k to trade around USD 36k from the USD 65k price level recorded at the beginning of this year. “The key level for the bulls to hold is USD 33.4k as it keeps the pattern of higher lows intact," said Jonathan Cheesman, head of over-the-counter and institutional sales at crypto derivatives exchange FTX.


A delegation of 18 French companies is in Cairo tomorrow to meet with international financial institutions and Egyptian private partners during a three-day event organized by Business France, according to a press release (pdf). This is the first business delegation from France since February 2020, and the sectors up for potential cooperation include renewable energy, mobility, health, water and sanitation, food security, education, and digitalization. Among the French companies sending representatives are Alstom, Beaudrey, RATP Dev, STEAM France, Veolia, and Suez.

Meanwhile the British Egyptian Business Association will hold a virtual conversation with Oil Minister Tarek El Molla tomorrow at 1pm to discuss the sector’s achievements. You can register through this link.

We’re looking forward to the second-most-holy holiday on the iSheep calendar tomorrow — that’s when the faithful will stream Apple’s WWDC keynote. We’ll get a look at what’s next for macOS, iOS and iPadOS, sure — but more than a few of us will be praying for hardware announcements, too. You can catch AppleInsider’s and Gizmodo’s prognostications or just circle your calendar for 7pm CLT on Monday and stream the keynote here.


Entrepreneurs in the tourism sector have until 20 June to apply for the six-month Tourism Recovery Program launched by enpact and the TUI Care Foundation and supported by GIZ, according to a press release (pdf). Under the program, 100 tourism startups will be chosen to receive dedicated mentoring, training, and direct financial support of up to EUR 9k per business. The program aims to build leadership, resilience, sustainability, innovation, and digital transformation within tourism SMEs while also creating an international network of tourism business to expand cooperation between Egypt, Germany, and all of Europe. You can apply for the program using this link.


KUDOS- Two Egyptians took home gold medals in the FIG World Challenge Cup in Artistic Gymnastics that was held last weekend in Cairo. Egyptian gymnasts Nancy Tamman and Ali Zahran each snagged first place for the women’s and men’s competitions, according to Kingfut. This was the first time the championship was hosted in Africa and more than 300 players from 16 countries competed in the event. Tamman has previously taken home the trophy for the Mediterranean Games and got first place in Africa twice in a row, while Zahran had previously snagged three world championships.


David Attenborough strikes again, teaming up with scientist Johan Rockström to create Breaking Boundaries: The Science Of Our Planet. The full length documentary explores how humans have managed to eliminate a [redacted] ton of Earth’s biodiversity, reaching a hazardous point where humanity has managed to push our home planet beyond the boundaries of stability. Painting a picture of what the future of our species and the fate of the planet could look like, the doc outlines nine planetary thresholds that if exceeded could make life on Earth unsustainable, and explains how close we are to each one. The New York Times and Roger Ebert think the content is essential to hear, but were dissuaded by one too many ambitious green screen ventures.


Downtown Cairo’s Cafe Riche offers a side of history: The cafe was used as an assembly point for writers, artists, and intellectuals such as Naguib Mahfouz and Taha Hussein. The cafe was acquired by Al Ismaelia in 2008 and sensitively restored to become one of the most vibrant night spots in the area, all while preserving the original feel and aura of the place. Cafe Riche is a great place to get breakfast or pass by for a drink with friends towards the evening.


Comedy Monsters are taking the stage at The Room Art Space in New Cairo tonight at 9pm.

A conference on Arab philosophy is taking place today at 6pm at the French Institute in Cairo. The talks will be given in French, with immediate Arabic translation.

Walking tour experience Qahrawya is providing a Downtown Cairo tour on Wednesday, taking participants through downtown, Garden City and Mounira for lunch, shopping, and sightseeing.


How to build a flexible organization that can adapt and flourish during times of uncertainty: Change, written by John P. Kotter, Vanessa Akhtar, and Gaurav Gupta, looks at how business leaders and policy makers can create non-linear change that is sustainable and adaptable in the current volatile climate. The book teaches how organizations should face threats and turn them into new ventures, how to manage resistance to change within old institutions, and how to improve outcomes in strategy execution, digital transformation, restructuring, and more. The book uses case studies and success stories to make their arguments and inspire the next generation of society leaders.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- The mercury will reach 36°C tomorrow during the day, falling to 19°C at night, according to our favorite weather app. This week will stay in the late 30s range, hitting a high of 40°C on Wednesday.


Unified Tax Act executive regs spell out how new tax platform will work

The final version of the Unified Tax Act’s executive regulations were published this morning in the Official Gazette, minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement this morning. The regulations detail how Egypt’s newly-launched single tax portal will work and outline instructions for taxpayers on accessing and using the platform to file and pay all types of state dues including income taxes, VAT, stamp taxes, and others. The new act replaces a hodgepodge of legislation that governed Egypt’s tax procedures.

Key highlights: The regs require each taxpayer to receive a unique registration / reference number that will be used for all interactions with tax authorities, allowing for faster and simpler processing. The new platform should also standardize the use of e-signatures across all tax procedures, including the calculation and collection of taxes and filing tax appeals. In addition, the regs also make it possible for taxpayers to access their tax files, know their appointed tax official, and file requests to add or change commercial activities or settle outstanding tax disputes. You can read the regulations in full here (pdf).

The executive regulations have undergone a change since being put up for public consultation earlier this year. Members of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce had objected to the draft on the grounds that the regulations did not deliver enough change, and would have introduced harsher penalties across the board without taking into account different cases of tax violation.

What has changed? One of the major points of contention involved the EGP 3-50k fine mandated by the law for non-jailable tax offenses such as submitting late returns, which industry representatives viewed as hefty, Ragab Mahrous, a tax advisor who took part in drafting the regs, told Enterprise. The final version gives the Tax Authority head the power to determine penalties for late fees on a case-by-case basis. The regulations also waive the 2% interest rate on late payments that were previously planned, Mahrous said. Instead, the authority will calculate interest on late taxes using the CBE discount and lending rates. Taxpayers will also be told in advance if they’re about to face an asset freeze or tax inspection, he added.

The taxman is on notice too: The regs also distinguish between delays caused by taxpayer negligence and those caused by tax authorities, making the tax department liable for late fees in the latter case.

All companies operating in Egypt are expected to be on the tax platform within two years. The first phase included 11k of Egypt’s largest taxpayers, though the platform is meant to onboard smaller companies throughout its coming three phases.

Egypt’s unified tax platform went live in a pilot launch in January after the passing of the Unified Tax Act, as part of the government’s plan to overhaul tax administration, encourage informal businesses to go legit, stimulate investment, and grant authorities better oversight on commercial transactions and tax accounts. Recent amendments obliged companies to file their taxes electronically as of this year, with the act imposing tighter deadlines on companies filing VAT returns and penalties on late filers.


Sovereign Sukuk Act gets early nod at the House

Sovereign sukuk get early House nod: The House of Representatives has approved “in principle” the long-awaited Sovereign Sukuk Act in a plenary session this afternoon, paving the way for the government’s inaugural sukuk issuance once it is signed into law, according to Ahram Gate. The bill, which still needs a final vote before going to the president for ratification, sets a framework that will regulate Egypt’s sovereign sukuk issuances, including governing how the sharia-compliant debt is securitized and traded. Once ratified, the executive regulations for the bill are expected to be issued within three months. The act had received committee-level approval last month.

Is our maiden sovereign sukuk issuance on the horizon? The government plans to take its first sukuk sale to the market as soon as the bill is ratified, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said last November, though the exact timing as well as size of the planned offering is yet to be determined.

A rundown on its key elements: The act will allow the government to sell ijara, mudaraba, istisnaa, murabaha, and wekala sukuk in local and international debt markets, according to a copy of the draft law seen by Enterprise in December. It will also set a term limit of 30 years on all sovereign sukuk and establish the Sovereign Sukuk Company, a joint stock company to execute and manage sales. The act’s executive regulations will cover setting up a regulatory oversight committee, clarifying how disputes between the government and sukuk holders should be handled, and will form an association to protect the rights of investors.

Don’t know your ijara from your murabaha? We have a rundown on the types of sukuk here.


The bookies should be running odds on who’s going to get Alex Medical

 Yas Holding launches bid for Alex Medical: It looks like yet another company has joined the bidding war for Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank’s (ADCB) 51.4% stake in Alexandria Medical, as the UAE’s Yas Holding (formerly known as Emirates Advanced Investments | LinkedIn) has made a mandatory tender offer for up to 100% of the Alexandria New Medical Center operator, the Financial Regulatory Authority said in a statement (pdf). The UAE-based group is targeting at least 51% of Alex Medical through an MTO at EGP 47.98 per share, valuing the company at close to EGP 684 mn.

Advisors: Pharos Holding’s former investment banking arm, which was acquired last year by National Bank of Egypt-owned Al Ahly Capital, is reportedly Emirates Advanced’s financial advisor on the transaction, according to sources quoted by Hapi Journal.

We’ve lost count at this point: The MTO is the latest in a string of bids to acquire the ADCB-held shares. It followed a parallel MTO launched by TAT for Medical Services — a subsidiary of Alexandria Healthcare Investments last week at EGP 45.53 apiece and another by Cleopatra Hospital fielded at EGP 38.53 each in mid-May. At least four other parties — including Nile Scan, healthcare investment firm Seha Capital, and a consortium led by Saudi’s Tawasol Holdings and Sherif El Akhdar’s LimeVest — separately expressed interest in the company but are yet to make their bids official.


CHG’s bottom line shoots 23% y-o-y in 1Q2021 as group plans expansions

EARNINGS WATCH- Cleopatra Hospital Group (CHG) reported a bottom line of EGP 108 mn in 1Q2021, up 23% y-o-y over the same period last year, in an earnings release out today (pdf). The company’s topline rose 26% y-o-y EGP 633.2 mn on the back of continued recovery in patient volumes, improving utilization rates, an increasingly optimised service mix, and favorable pricing, the company said. Patient volumes have been growing in both covid-19 facilities and regular hospitals. CHG also witnessed growing volumes and revenues at its polyclinics, as well as growing contributions from its recent expansions and new specialties. That, coupled with management’s cost cutting and optimization strategy, helped drive bottom line growth.

Looking ahead, the company plans to continue building on the momentum of patient volume growth through its “newly added centres of excellence and recently completed renovations,” the company said. :In the longer-term, the Group will continue to drive progress on all its long-term strategic priorities of diversified revenue growth, quality enhancement, digitalisation, capacity and geographical expansion and optimisation, and integration.”

We’re reading expansion into this, which CHG acknowledged by referring to its mandatory tender offer to acquire 100% of Alexandria Medical Services. “The acquisition would see CHG expand its geographic footprint into Egypt’s second-largest city while meeting the rising demand for high-quality healthcare in Alexandria,” the statement reads.

Amer Group’s jumped to EGP 209.9 mn in 1Q2021, up from EGP 10.7 mn in 1Q2020, the company said in its quarterly financials (pdf). Revenues also jumped to EGP 1.02 bn during the quarter, compared to EGP 303.49 mn in the same period in 2020.


The EGX30 rose 0.7% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.27 bn (2.2% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is down 6.7% YTD.

In the green: Pioneers Holding (+7.1%), MM Group (+4.9%) and Cleopatra Hospital (+4.7%).

In the red: Fawry (-2.9%), Abu Qir Fertilizers (-1.4%) and Telecom Egypt (-1.0%).


Rising US inflation a worry for emerging markets

Heightened inflation in the US is likely to spell trouble for emerging economies as rising yields squeezes countries with hefty debt loads and precarious public finances, analysts tell the Financial Times. “Emerging economies should be worrying more about US inflation than about their own,” Tatiana Lysenko, lead economist for emerging markets at S&P Global Ratings, tells the salmon-colored paper.

But why? Higher prices mean a greater likelihood that the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates to quell inflation. Higher interest rates are bad news for emerging markets, many of whom have debt denominated in greenbacks. As yields on US debt increases, investors begin demanding higher returns on riskier EM assets, pushing up their borrowing costs. Rising rates in the US typically suck capital out of emerging economies and strengthen the greenback, leaving developing nations with weaker currencies and hurting the finances of countries holding a lot of USD-denominated debt.

We saw this earlier this year when yields on US treasuries began to creep up. As more investors began to anticipate a Fed rate hike, a sell-off in the US sovereign debt market shocked EM assets, with currencies and stocks both seeing outflows at the end of February.

One of the countries name-checked by the FT is Egypt: Egypt has one of the highest refinancing costs in the world and will need to refinance debt amounting to 38% of GDP this year. It has also refinanced at higher rates, paying an average interest rate of 12.1% on its debts, slightly above its average cost of 11.8%, according to S&P.

Inflation isn’t the only risk to EM, Lysenko says, telling the FT that if the US economic recovery diverges too abruptly and surges ahead of emerging economies, investors could react by selling EM stocks and bonds.

Some EM central banks have limited room for manoeuvre: Brazil, for example, in response to a surge in inflation has raised rates twice this year, and another hike is expected this month. The issue is that the country’s central bank can only raise rates so far without destabilizing public finances, and should the recent price growth prove to be more than just transitory, it could find itself between a rock and a hard place.

Fortunately, Egypt is not in this position: The Central Bank of Egypt is in a rather different position, facing low inflation with some of the highest interest rates in the world. Rather than facing pressure to tighten, the central bank has room to cut rates at its upcoming meeting without too much fear of provoking a surge in inflation.


Feeling kind of fuzzy-headed? Here’s how you can fend off “brain fog”

Where did I leave my keys again? If you’ve been experiencing a sustained loss of mental clarity and difficulty thinking over the past year, you’re not alone. While precise numbers are hard to come by, neuroscientist Sabina Brennan, estimates that some 600 mn people globally experience symptoms of the cognitive dysfunction known as Brain Fog, she tells CNBC. Brennan’s book Beating Brain Fog outlines a number of ways to overcome foggy thinking, and is particularly pertinent after a year in which stress, anxiety or illness has exacerbated an inability to think clearly for many.

So-called “Long Covid” has been cited as a culprit behind a long-term inability to focus: While feeling sluggish or spaced out from time to time isn’t necessarily a novel experience, the continued sensation of brain fogginess has become one of the significant long-term effects of contracting a severe case of covid-19. A DePaul University study of 280 covid “long-haulers” found that their neurocognitive symptoms had worsened six months on from contracting the disease, implying that the brain fog was there to stay. Lingering physiological symptoms from the virus, like fatigue, body aches and an inability to sleep have at least partially explained the presence of a dark cloud obscuring our ability to stay on task. But there’s another, less tangible psychological component hindering people from leading otherwise ordinary lives.

But a year filled with uncertainty and grief has affected even those who haven’t personally contracted the virus. Feelings of fatigue associated with brain fog have also been attributed to sustained periods of stress experienced during a pandemic. The percentage of US adults with symptoms of an anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5% between August 2020 and February 2021, according to a CDC report. Grief over the loss of loved ones, job insecurity, feelings of isolation and the “sameness” of everyday life are among the long list of reasons why our brains have become so exhausted and “foggy,” researchers say.

And decreased brain stimulation as most switched to work from home schedules didn’t help. For those fortunate enough to be able to work from home, it's easy to start confusing memories when nothing changes. “We have effectively evolved to stop paying attention when nothing changes, but to pay particular attention when things do change,” Catherine Loveday, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Westminster, explains to the Guardian. Breaking up patterns and having certain kinds of “” are apparently essential for memories to be sufficiently processed in the hippocampus. The same goes for scores of people whose brains “wake up in the presence of other people,” Loveday adds.

So, how can you fend off the fog? Getting a good night’s rest comes at the top of the list of neurologists’ recommendations across the board, as it gives your body the opportunity to clean out brain toxins. Exercise comes second in line, because of its ability to improve brain cell growth and reduce stress, says Brennan. Reintroducing some added stimulation through your social networks can be helpful in breaking up repetition, boosting mood and improving memory.


3-6 June (Thursday-Monday): Egypt is hosting the FIG World Challenge Cup in Artistic Gymnastics.

7 June (Monday): British Egyptian Business Association hosts an event featuring Oil Minister Tarek El Molla.

7-9 June (Monday-Wednesday): A delegation of 18 French companies will meet with international financial institutions and Egyptian private partners in an event organized by Business France The event will take place at Sofitel Gezirah.

14 June (Monday): Egypt Green Economy Forum.

17 June (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

17-20 June (Thursday-Sunday): The International Exhibition of Materials and Technologies for Finishing and Construction (Turnkey Expo), Cairo International Conference Center.

20 June (Sunday): Ismailia Economic Court to hold hearing on Ever Given compensation case.

20 June (Sunday): Deadline to apply for enpact and the TUI Care Foundation’s Tourism Recovery Programme. You can apply using this link.

22-27 June (Tuesday-Sunday): The CIB PSA World Tour Finals for 2020-2021 will take place in Cairo.

24 June (Thursday): End of the 2020-2021 academic year (public schools).

26-29 June (Saturday-Tuesday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo, Egypt. The Big 5 Egypt Impact Awards will also be taking place at the event on 27 June.

30 June (Wednesday): The IMF will complete a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020 (proposed date).

30 June (Wednesday): 30 June Revolution Day.

30 June – 15 July: National Book Fair.

10 July – 2 August: Thanaweya Amma exams take place.

1 July: (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 30 June Revolution.

1 July (Thursday): Large taxpayers that have not yet signed on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

1 July (Thursday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

15 June (Saturday): EGX-listed will have to complete filing their financial disclosures for the period ended 31 March.

19 July (Monday): Arafat Day (national holiday).

20-23 July (Tuesday-Friday): Eid Al Adha (national holiday).

23 July (Friday): Revolution Day (national holiday).

2-4 August (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt is hosting the Africa Food Manufacturing exhibition at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

5 August (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year.

12 August (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Islamic New Year.

12-15 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo: the 33rd International Agricultural Exhibition for Africa and the Middle East.

16 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

28 October (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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