Cigarette prices are going up, and the local press is already losing its mind in a pre-emptive fit of nicotine withdrawal. The House of Representatives voted yesterday to amend the Value-Added Tax Act to increase the schedule tax on tobacco, Ahram Online reports. The move follows a petition by the Finance Ministry that has passed the House Budget Committee in record time before getting the nod from the House in plenary session.
How much more are they going to cost? Cigarettes sold for less than EGP 18 will see a EGP 3.50 increase per pack, while those sold at EGP 18-30 will see a EGP 5.50 price jump. Packs currently going for over EGP 30 will now cost EGP 6.50 more each.
When does it go into effect? Finance Minister Amr El Garhy told talk show hosts last night that he expects President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to sign off on the tax hike later this week.
How much will state coffers net — and what will El Garhy do with the windfall? Finance Minister Amr El Garhy told the House Budget Committee that the increase is expected to generate between EGP 7 bn and EGP 8 bn in new revenue. Funding from the tax grab will go towards spending on social welfare programs and on implementing the EGP 600 mn Universal Healthcare Act.
PM threw his weight behind the bill? “The quick and sudden submission of the bill for a vote came after Prime Minister Sherif Ismail paid a surprise visit to parliament on Tuesday morning to discuss the increase with speaker Abdel-Aal,” Ahram Online’s Gamnal Essam El-Din reports.
It’s the only story the domestic press can talk about this morning. The story has topped headlines in almost every local paper with updates across the news cycle as if they were covering a natural disaster. It also dominated last night’s airwaves (see Last Night’s Talk Shows, below). It’s also just about the only tax that even the smokers among us will full-throatedly cheer. We say this in the most secular way possible: They’re called sin taxes for a reason.
Schneider Electric is organizing the 2017 Innovation Summit Egypt starting from today and until Friday, where it will launch its EcoStruxure architecture and platform for end-to-end IoT-enabled solutions. CEO and Chairman Jean-Pascal Tricoire will attend the summit, as will the ministers of electricity and CIT.
Looking at how to balance your personal portfolio? Stay in equities and look at both Europe and emerging markets, writes self-styled personal finance ‘guru’ Ken Fisher (personal website), the former equities analyst and founder of Fisher Investments who enjoys moonlighting as a columnist and author. “I don’t see this bull market ending soon. Markets tend to look forward only about 3-30 months, focusing most closely on the next 12-18. In that span, what I see looks positive. Economic drivers are strong. Corporate earnings are zooming globally. High and rising leading economic indices say more growth is in store.” Read the full piece in the FT here or check out a rundown on his FT Money Ask Me Anything appearance here.
Uber hid a data breach that compromised the personal data of some 50 mn users and another 7 mn drivers, the Financial Times reports, saying prosecutors in New York have opened an investigation. The ride-sharing service is believed to have paid USD 100k to hackers to have them destroy the information, but failed to tell customers or regulators about the incident. The company’s new CEO has apologized and says he’s ordered an investigation. Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal also have the story. It’s unlikely the data on that bank-issued piece of plastic you use to make purchases has been leaked, from what we can gather. Uber’s statement on the breach is here. Advice for affected riders is here and for affected drives is here.
Pixar’s John Lasseter is the latest figure in the US to fall in what appears to be a [redacted] harassment scandal broken by the Hollywood Reporter. Lasseter said yesterday he would “take ‘a six-month sabbatical’ after unspecified ‘missteps’ that made some staffers feel ‘disrespected or uncomfortable,’” the New York Times notes.
Insight into our fevered brains: Why are we talking about [redacted] harassment and “piece of plastic you use to make purchases”? We’re all grown-ups and should be able to read the word [redacted] in that last sentence. And even our resident 10-year-old dreams of having her own piece of plastic. But we do this so as not to anger the algorithms that govern our deliverability to your inbox every morning. The first [redacted] word does that outright. The second word, used in this context, would do the same. That’s why we talk about freetrade rather than breaking it into two words as it should be. It’s by we talk about banks issuing LGs rather than spelling out the words (the second one is the problem). And it’s why we sometimes explain concepts rather than using simple words that would do the trick.
PSA- Do you have kids? Or are you young enough that the hell that is K-12 education is still fresh in your mind? Go see Wonder. Our word not good enough for you? Google it — it’s getting great reviews. Check out takes from the New York Times and Variety, get the inside scoop on its marketing from Deadline or check out the RJ Palacio book on which it was based. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson are perfect (not normally an adjective we’d use for Mr. Wilson), and the child actors are — as Glenn Kenny rightly writes for the Times — simply perfect.