Sunday, 10 January 2021

The A-Z of legislation coming in the next parliamentary session

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the first “real” workweek of 2021 in which pretty much everyone is back from their break. We have tons of news for you after a busy holiday weekend, so let’s jump right in:

Have we passed the second wave? That seems to be what the government’s data is telling us, as official figures continued to show a fall in new daily infections over Christmas weekend. The ministry reported 989 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 1,001 the day before and 1,219 on Thursday. Daily cases have now fallen by more than 400 since the recent peak of 1,418 at the start of the year.

The daily death toll ticked up slightly, but is well below what we were seeing at the height of the first wave in 2020. The ministry said yesterday that another 57 people died of covid-related complications, up from 56 on Friday and 54 on Thursday.

We’re keeping an eye on the upcoming launch of the Health Ministry’s online platform to sign up for covid-19 vaccinations, which will be available at egcovac.mohp.gov.eg once it goes live.

In related news: Saudi Arabia will extend its travel ban until 31 March, with no citizens to leave or return to the country until the ban is lifted as a covid-19 precautionary measure, reports the Saudi News Agency.


THE BIG STORY around the world this morning: Agent Orange could be impeached. Again. Democrats (and a select few Republicans) are moving to impeach US President Donald Trump for an unprecedented second time after the mayhem that unfolded in Washington over the weekend. In a very postmodern, social media-gen Bastille, a mob of Trumpistas stormed Capitol Hill in a bid to stop the House from certifying Joe Biden as the next president, leading to the death of one police officer and four other people. Perpetrated by selfie-takers, viking cosplayers, and punch-drunk QAnoners, it’s difficult to know whether this was a genuine attempt at a coup or simply a rampage of the clueless.

Trump loses Pence + his Twitter feed: Vice President Mike Pence broke with Trump by confirming the election results and the secretaries of transportation and education both resigned in the wake of the violence. Perhaps the greater loss came when Facebook and Twitter finally bowed to pressure and kicked the president off of their platforms for his incitement of violence.

Can Trump be impeached within the few days he has left in office? Theoretically yes, and while it’s not going to be easy, there is many a lawmaker on Capitol Hill eager to ensure that King Cheeto will never again stain the walls of the Oval Office

The story is front-page news pretty much everywhere, from the Wall Street Journal to the Financial Times to the New York Times.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

It’s inflation day, with December figures due out from the Central Bank of Egypt and state census bureau Capmas later today. Annual urban inflation rose to a five-month high of 5.7% in November, just shy of the lower bound of the central bank’s 9% (+/- 3%) target range. Radwa El Swaify, head of research at Pharos, expects urban inflation to have edged up to 6.1% last month.

The GERD party kicks off again today after Sudan agreed to return to the table, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

PSA- Heavy fog will stay with us this week, with meteorologists saying yesterday that driving conditions in the north of the country will continue to be poor in the mornings until Tuesday.

WELCOME TO WINTER- Our favourite weather app says to expect daytime highs of 26-28°C through Wednesday and then a cold wave kicking off on Thursday that will see the mercury fall to as low as 16*C during the day and into the single digits at night.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

  • A new class of MPs will be seated in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. We have chapter and verse below.
  • Samsung will unveil its latest Galaxy flagship, the S21 on Thursday, coinciding with the virtual-only Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off tomorrow.

Did you miss our 2020 in Review, which includes pointers on what to expect this year?

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LEGISLATION WATCH

What’s going to keep MPs busy this year?

Your new House of Representatives will convene on Tuesday for its first session since elections were held late last year. Our high-tech, patented Enterprise Legislative Tracker keeps tabs on the comings and goings throughout the parliamentary session; from the first draft to the presidential seal of approval to the bills still stuck in legislative limbo. Here’s what we’re expecting for the coming session, which will run for six months.

Among their first orders of business: Electing a speaker of the House at two deputies plus working out elections to committee seats.MPs will swear their oaths (settling into a five-year term) and vote for speaker in a marathon session on Tuesday. Look for Ali Abdel-Aal to return as speaker of a House dominated by the pro-government Mostaqbal Watan

TAXATION

VAT AMENDMENTS- The government plans to impose VAT on non-residential property, most commercial advertising and to hike the 5% rate on many forms of snack foods. Real estate developers are understandably concerned about how VAT on commercial property may affect the market, while food producers have leaned on lawmakers to roll back the snack tax. Neither lobbying effort seems at the moment to have borne fruit.

Status: The amendments were passed to the House in October and are currently with the Planning and Budgeting Committee.

REAL ESTATE TAX- It’s still unclear how the government will switch up property taxes, but sources said late last year that a bill should hit the House at some point this year. Last year, manufacturers called on the government to make them exempt from the tax, and while this doesn’t seem to be in the cards, sources say that policymakers are planning to significantly reduce rates in forthcoming legislation.

Status: The finance and trade ministries have drafted a bill but this hasn’t yet been put to the cabinet. A source tells us that policymakers are yet to finish the system that will be used to assess the value of land for tax purposes.

E-COMMERCE TAX- A draft E-Commerce Act that would slap new taxes on global tech giants made its way back to the cabinet, having already once been sent to the House. A source from the House Planning and Budget Committee tells Enterprise that cabinet is waiting to ship it back to the House once it is in session. It remains unclear whether new amendments have been added to the bill, which would impose a 15-20% stamp tax on online ads and 14% VAT on online sales.

Status: The bill will apparently make its way to the cabinet for discussion at some point this quarter.

TAX BREAKS ON INVESTMENT IN GOV’T DEBT- A bill is in the works that would hand investors an income tax break on interest earned from bonds issued abroad. This is an amendment to Law 182 of 2020, which repealed an income tax exemption on income derived from treasury holdings. Designed to stoke investor appetite for Egyptian debt, the potential move comes as the government considers a new round of international bond issuance

Status: The bill has been referred to the Planning Committee, according to Youm7.

enterprise

BUSINESS + FINANCE

FISCAL SUSTAINABILITY- Given the new round of structural reforms to coincide with the latest IMF loan agreement, the draft Unified Budget Act will likely be one of the government’s top legislative priorities in the coming weeks. The legislation would impose new checks and balances on governments to ensure fiscal discipline, including spending limits, the requirement to present annual budgetary and fiscal strategies to the House. New mechanisms to monitor budgeting performance will aim to increase transparency and oversight over spending, while existing overlapping legislation will be streamlined into a single bill governing the annual budget and fiscal accountability.

Status: The bill is currently with the Planning and Budgeting Committee after gaining cabinet approval in late October. We’re guessing that the government is going to want to get this in order before it finalizes the FY2021-2022 budget so expect to see some movement on this in the coming weeks.

SUKUK- Legislation allowing the government to issue sovereign sukuk to investors will be finalized during the next session, finally putting into a place a framework governing how the debt is securitized and traded, and enshrining the rights and responsibilities of sukuk holders into law.

Status: The draft legislation cleared the cabinet in November and has been referred to the Planning Committee. The committee was due to start discussing the bill at the tail end of last year but House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal ultimately pushed it to this new session.

INSURANCE- Amendments to the Universal Healthcare Act should provide some clarity on how the state sees private companies fitting into the universal health ins system, including how companies will be allowed to price their services and transact with the government. Meanwhile, the draft Unified Insurance Act that has been at least three years in the making should finally make it into law this term. While we’re still unclear about the true scope of the bill, as proposed in 2018 it would grant the FRA sweeping new powers to oversee the sector, make insurance compulsory for SMEs and freelancers, and set up new economic courts to mediate disputes.

Status: The Unified Insurance Act is now with the House Economic Committee after receiving cabinet approval in November, while amendments to the Universal Healthcare Act remain with the cabinet.

FINTECH- The FRA has been busy drafting a bill that would establish a framework for regulating the fintech space. Information is scant at present, but from what we know so far the legislation would allow the FRA to license and regulate fintech platforms, and introduce new penalties for regulatory breaches.

Status: The FRA approved the draft legislation in September but its current status is unknown.

TRUST BUSTING- Under amendments to the Antitrust Act, the Egyptian Competition Authority would be granted the power to sign off on M&As before they are finalized and would be given more discretion over what it considers a threat to competition.

Status: The changes were approved by cabinet at the end of November and will now be sent to the House.

BANKRUPTCY ACT- Creditors would be given more power to weigh in on the futures of bankrupt businesses if parliament passes these amendments to the Bankruptcy Act.

Status: The changes are heading to a final vote in the general assembly after the House Legislative Committee gave the green light in October.

COMMODITIES EXCHANGE- Cabinet is expected to submit the law that will establish the Egyptian Commodity Exchange to the House of Representatives during the next legislative session.

Status: The exchange is going to be up and running during the second half of the year, so expect movement soon.

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SOCIAL + POLITICAL-

There are — as perhaps you would expect, following a year like 2020 — a number of health-related bills on the agenda for the coming session. These include:

  • Emergency medical fund: Expect the House to make a decision on a draft law that proposes to establish an emergency medical response fund during the next session. The Health Committee gave the greenlight in November, so all that is required now to make it law is a final general assembly vote.
  • Plasma regs: Cabinet approved in November a draft bill to regulate plasma collection centers and help the country become more self-sufficient in producing the substance that has been used successfully by Egyptian doctors to treat the virus. The bill is currently with the Health Committee.
  • ِA new nationwide medical council: There are early-stage plans to set up a new “specialist” medical council that would help inform national public health policy and coordinate with the ministry, hospitals, law enforcement, and the private sector. The legislation appears to still be in the drafting phase.

Accrediting vocational schools: Several ministries are collaborating on a bill that would set up a new public authority responsible for accrediting institutions offering technical learning and training programs.

Status: Lawmakers are a little behind on this one. We heard last year that the bill should start to work itself through the House before the December break, paving the way for a vote in January. But even though cabinet did green-light the proposals in September, it doesn’t appear that parliament has made much progress on this yet, making a vote early in the session unlikely.

ECONOMY

Our latest IMF report card is out, unlocking USD 1.67 bn

The IMF has bumped its growth outlook for Egypt in FY2020-2021 to 2.8%, up from its 2% forecast in June. The lifting of lockdown measures has helped the economy to show “early signs of recovery” after a milder-than-expected downturn, the Fund’s Executive Board said following its first review of Egypt’s USD 5.2 bn standby loan agreement. This would make Egypt one of only a handful of countries to have grown in 2020, with the report estimating the economy expanded 1.5%. On the flipside, this means that FY2021-2022 will see “less sharp growth” as the recovery will now come sooner than expected.

Egypt got a passing grade across the board, with the exception of a “marginal breach” of the lower end of the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) target range for inflation. The dip in inflation triggered the monetary policy consultation clause, leading the CBE to request an amendment to the clause “to take into account recent inflation dynamics,” the Fund said. The consultation band is also being narrowed one percentage point to +/- 2 for the inner bands and +3/-4 for the outer bands.

The Executive Board’s completion and approval of the first review means Egypt can now draw the second USD 1.67 bn tranche, bringing the total amount disbursed under the SBA to USD 3.6 bn.

Where we did well

The economy as a whole fared better than expected, with GDP contracting in 3Q2020 at a slower pace than the fund had penciled in for the quarter on the back of “robust consumption.” Net foreign reserves and primary balance outturns “outperformed” their targets, while tax revenues jumped 14% y-o-y during the quarter, “reflecting strong growth in corporate income tax receipts that offset weaker VAT collection.” Egypt also managed to meet all the targets set for “health and social spending, the government’s overdraft at the CBE, and the share of short-term net domestic issuances.”

The flood of fiscal + monetary responses to the pandemic got brownie points, with the IMF pointing to initiatives from the CBE and the government coming together with strong liquidity buffers in the banking sector to prop up domestic activity. “The banking sector on aggregate was well capitalized entering the crisis and the latest available financial sector indicators appear sound.”

Our green economy push didn’t go unnoticed, either, with the report saying the fund “welcomes the focus on green recovery and Egypt’s leading regional role in this regard.”

On the structural reform front, things are broadly moving ahead as planned: A reform strategy for the National Investment Bank (NIB) that is expected to be complete by the end of the current month is evidently a priority for the government, which completed an external auditor’s evaluation of the bank’s financial position. Fiscal structural benchmarks put in place for the end of December are also progressing mostly as scheduled, although the report notes that authorities need to kick up the pace for a medium-term revenue strategy that needs to be signed off by cabinet by the end of the year. The strategy “will help improve revenue mobilization and increase fiscal space for spending in health and education while achieving the key medium-term objective of reducing public debt.”

The government is also making progress on structural reforms designed to encourage the development of the private sector and better public sector governance, including publishing financial reports for state-owned enterprises and the ratification of the Customs Act ahead of schedule.

Challenges

Work still needs to be done on fiscal sustainability, improving trade + market competition, and gender: While Egypt’s ability to repay the loan remains “adequate,” the report points to some risks that have persisted since the Fund signed off on the SBA, including “uncertainty about the global economic conditions and some concentration of repayment obligations to the Fund in FY2023-2024 and FY2024-2025.” On the upside, continued improvement in Egypt’s fiscal and external positions indicate we will be able to repay.

Public debt and heavy financing needs also continue to be a challenge, leaving us “vulnerable to changes in financial conditions for emerging markets.” The report points to the possibility of another mass exodus of capital that could ramp up pressure on the currency and lead to financing pressures. “Strengthening resilience to further shocks and maintaining investor confidence in Egypt’s economic outlook requires continued timely policy implementation.”

We also need to double down on:

  • Improving competition to encourage economic growth and job creation led by the private sector;
  • Advancing women’s labor force participation and closing the gender gap by providing tools such as setting up childcare facilities and offering training programs to women;
  • Preparing the labor force for digitized work in the post-covid world.

Tap / click here to read the full report (pdf). Reuters also had the story.

M&A WATCH

The Arab Investment Bank sale update + Hindawi sells for USD 298 mn

EFG Hermes and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) will wrap up their acquisition of the Arab Investment Bank (AIB) a month later than planned. Masrawy reports that their acquisition of a 76% stake in the state-owned bank will likely be finalized by the end of March, rather than in February as previously thought.

What’s with the delay? The lawyers are taking longer than expected, sources say.

Background: EFG Hermes and the SFE announced in June that they had been given the green light by the central bank to start due diligence on the AIB, and that they planned to purchase the stake through a capital increase to EGP 5 bn, which they were hoping to complete before the end of 2020. EFG would become the controlling shareholder with at least 51%, while the SFE would take no more than 25%. The state-owned National Investment Bank currently holds 91.4% of AIB, while the Federation of Arab Republics owns the remaining 8.6%.

AND IN OTHER M&A NEWS-

Egyptian-founded research publisher Hindawi was acquired by publisher Wiley for USD 298 mn, Wiley and Hindawi announced on Tuesday. UK-based Hindawi — founded in Egypt back in 1997 by Ahmed Hindawi and his wife Nagwa Abdel Mottaleb — is one of the world's largest fully open access journal publishers and publishes more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific journals via its in-house Phenom platform. The company is projected to see 50% y-o-y topline growth in its FY ending 31 December 2020, generating some USD 40 mn turnover. “The acquisition of Hindawi enables Wiley to move farther and faster toward our goal of meeting the world’s … need for new knowledge,” said Wiley president and CEO Brian Napack. Hindawi has an office in London as well as one in Cairo’s Nasr City. You can read more about the founders here.

ENERGY

It’s a gas, gas, gas

TAQA Arabia will invest EGP 3.6 bn to build 180 natgas filling stations between now and 2023, Executive Chairman Khaled Abu Bakr told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi last night (watch, runtime: 9:22). Qalaa Holdings’ energy distributor was announced last week as a private sector partner that will help expand the country’s network of natgas stations as more gas-fuelled cars and buses take to the roads over the coming years. The company will spend EGP 800 mn to construct 40 stations this year, EGP 1.2 bn on 60 stations in 2022 and EGP 1.6 bn on 80 stations in 2023, Abu Bakr said.

This means that TAQA has taken more than half of the 300 stations the government plans to establish over the next three years.

We’re also getting more Chillout-branded natgas fueling stations: The Natural Gas Vehicles Company (Cargas) and Gastec signed an agreement on Wednesday to hand over 24 plots of land to Chillout (a subsidiary of state-owned Wataniya for Roads) to set up the stations, according to an Oil Ministry statement.

The National Bank of Egypt is planning to finance EGP 5-7 bn-worth of car replacements, the bank’s retail risk head, Karim Sous, said, according to Al Shorouk. The central bank last week said it will make EGP 15 bn available for banks to loan out to car owners wanting to own dual-fuel vehicles. Borrowers will pay a fixed 3% rate of interest and the loan terms will range between seven and 10 years.

ALSO ON THE ENERGY FRONT- Fuel prices are staying unchanged for another three months, the government’s fuel pricing committee decided at its first meeting of the year on Wednesday, according to a statement. The decision will keep 95-octane at EGP 8.50 per liter, 92-octane at EGP 7.50, and 80-octane at EGP 6.25. Meanwhile, diesel prices will stay at EGP 6.75 per liter and mazut (heavy fuel oil) for factories is unchanged at EGP 3.9k per tonne.

Fuel prices have now been held steady since last April, when the committee cut fuel prices by EGP 0.25 across the board. The decision to keep prices unchanged for another three months is meant to create price stability amid “current circumstances” with the ongoing pandemic, the statement says.

TAX

Five companies prosecuted for not joining unified tax platform

Five unnamed companies are being prosecuted for missing the deadline to sign up for the government’s new unified tax platform, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement. The Egyptian Tax Authority had issued warnings to the companies before taking legal action, the statement added. The electronic platform’s pilot phase was launched on 1 January, with 11k of the country’s largest taxpayers required to file returns and pay taxes through the digital system. The move to the unified tax platform will help the state ensure better oversight and put an end to tax evasion, the ministry has previously said.

REGULATION WATCH

Banks will need to transfer funds within hours

Banks are now required to complete EGP transfers within a shorter timeframe under directions (pdf) from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). Transfers inside a bank need to be complete within two hours while transfers from one bank in Egypt to another will take up to three hours. Requests put in after 2pm or over the weekend will be required to be complete within the same amount of time on the following working day.

The CBE has given banks three months to comply with the new requirements, with the grace period to be utilized to increase efficiency and improve infrastructure. The new requirements will help boost customer confidence in Egyptian banks while also highlighting banking as an alternative to paper transactions.

Other new requirements:

  • Bank fees on electronic transactions need to be less than what the bank charges for the same service executed with physical currency.
  • IBANs will be necessary for use in all transactions.
  • Straight-through processing (STP) must be enacted for outgoing remittances. STP will ensure faster processing times; banks have six months to comply.

NON-BANK FINANCIAL SERVICES

Kashat launches national nano-credit campaign

Our friends at Kashat, Egypt’s first nano-lender, have launched a second pilot backed by a national-scale marketing campaign designed to bring more unbanked consumers into the financial system. Kashat offers small, productive loans using “alternative data signals” to profile the risk of individual borrowers. The national pilot will cover nine governorates after a trial in Cairo and Alexandria. Kashat is regulated by the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) and thanked the regulator for its “tireless efforts to move the needle on inclusion and a forward looking approach that has allowed for products like ours to create intervention for those who need it the most.”

You can catch the one-minute spots for the campaign online here watch or watch and watch.

IN OTHER INDUSTRY NEWS- Ebtikar and Abdul Latif Jameel are both embarking on new non-banking financial services ventures:

  • Ebtikar has one eye on its stock market debut: Al Mal reported at the weekend that Ebiktar will set up a new NBFS unit named Basata, a plan that has earned the approval of Ebtikar’s majority shareholder, MM Group. Setting up a new subsidiary is meant to give Ebtikar and EFG Hermes — which is quarterbacking the IPO — the freedom to move assets around and better structure the Ebtikar’s portfolio ahead of a potential 25-30% stake sale on the EGX this quarter.
  • And Abdul Latif Jameel has a consumer finance license: Managing director and CEO of ALJ Finance Mohamed Al-Jazzar told Al Shorouk that the Saudi company has landed a consumer finance license and plans to launch several products in the coming months.

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STARTUP WATCH

The latest from Planet Startup

Egyptian scientific research startup Nawah Scientific has raised a second USD 1 mn pre-series A funding round with mixed equity and debt capital, raising its total funding to USD 2 mn, according to a press release. The Egypt Ventures-led funding round also saw contributions from the Alexandria Fund, Cairo Angels, Alex Angels, undisclosed angels from Hult International Business School alumni, and other undisclosed international angel investors, reported Mobi Health News.

What is Nawah Scientific? The company aims to be both a platform that provides researchers access to lab equipment and a lab assistant helping conduct the experiments by running tests on received samples. Nawah landed a USD 150k grant after coming in second in Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s Africa Netpreneur Prize initiative.

You can read more about Nawah Scientific and other educational technology startups in our Blackboard story that explores how they can help tackle Egypt education system problems.

ALSO FROM PLANET STARTUP-

Raseedy wallet users can now utilize Aman’s 100k point of sale (POS) locations for deposits or withdrawals, according to a press release (pdf).

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The talk shows were awash with natgas and covid news last night:

El Molla talks natgas: Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi phoned Oil Minister Tarek El Molla to discuss the natgas transition plan and updates on the Damietta LNG plant (watch, runtime: 15:24):

  • The natgas transition plan: The government is planning to convert some 250k cars to run on natural gas by 2023 under its strategy to lessen the nation’s reliance on gasoline. After converting around 42k cars last year, a further 70k are targeted over the next 12 months, and 90k in both 2022 and 2023, the minister said.
  • It’s in the consumer’s interest to convert: El Molla pointed out that the price of a cubic meter of gas is about EGP 3.5, cheaper than the EGP 6.25-8.50 people pay for a liter of gasoline.
  • The Damietta LNG plant will reopen in February, El Molla said. A long-waited agreement between plant operators Eni, Naturgy and the Egyptian government was finally sealed in November, paving the way for the facility to reopen in 1Q2021 following almost nine years of closure.

On the covid front: Lamees covered the efforts to beef up oxygen stocks after last week’s incident in Sharqia (watch, runtime: 1:47) and talked to Health Ministry advisor Aissam Saleh about the imminent launch of the website allowing people to register for a covid vaccine (watch, runtime: 20:26). Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary rang up Higher Education Ministry covid committee member Adel Khattab, whp condemned social media posts that have spread disinformation about prescriptions that treat the virus (watch, runtime: 10:40).

PLANET FINANCE

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Pharos Holding - https://pharoslive.com/

MARKET WATCH- Friday was a record-breaking day for emerging markets: EM stocks reached a record high during Friday’s session after their fastest rally in history amid a flood of liquidity and optimism over a global recovery driving risk appetite, says Bloomberg. The recovery from the Great Covid Crash of 2020 has added USD 10.8 tn to the market cap of EM stocks in just a little over nine months, bringing the MSCI benchmark index even higher than the peak it witnessed before the 2008 financial crisis.

Up

EGX30

10,952

+1.1% (YTD: +1.0%)

Up

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.63

Sell 15.73

Up

USD at CIB

Buy 15.64

Sell 15.74

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

8,737

+0.8% (YTD: +0.6%)

Up

ADX

5,163

+0.7% (YTD: +2.4%)

Up

DFM

2,625

+0.8% (YTD: +5.4%)

Up

S&P 500

3,824

+0.6% (YTD: +1.8%)

Up

FTSE 100

6,873

+0.2% (YTD: +6.4%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 55.99

+3.0%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.70

-1.1%

Down

Gold

USD 1,835

-4.1%

Up

BTC

USD 40,748

+0.1%

The EGX30 rose 1.1% on Wednesday on turnover of EGP 1.4 bn (5.3% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net buyers. The index is up 1% YTD.

In the green: SODIC (+5.9%), Sidi Kerir Petrochemical (+5.3%) and Ezz Steel (+4.3%).

In the red: GB Auto (-1.1%), Eastern Co (-0.8%) and Credit Agricole (-0.7%).

AROUND THE WORLD

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have reopened their airspaces to Qatar after signing the declaration — along with Egypt and Bahrain — last week that ended nearly a 3.5-year blockade of Doha. Saudi airlines have resumed operating regularly scheduled flights to the statelet, while Qatar Airways said it will restart commercial flights to Saudi. Qatari vehicles also crossed into the kingdom by land yesterday, for the first time since mid-2017.

Diplomatic ties will likely take longer to restore though: This is according to UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, who said last week that while logistical ties can be easily mended, the rebuilding of trust necessary to fully restore diplomatic relations will be a long-term project.

The statelet doesn’t plan foreign policy changes and isn’t reining in mouthpiece Al Jazeera. Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani tells the Financial Times that it will continue its cordial relations with Turkey and Iran, “in a sign that it has made few concessions” with its regional rivals. And Bloomberg’s Bobby Ghosh concludes that the royal family has emerged from the crisis with “a stronger hand,” ending the embargo still in control of its policies and with stronger regional allies in Tehran and Ankara.

CALENDAR

13-31 January (Wednesday-Sunday): Egypt will host the 2021 Men’s Handball World Championship in four venues in Alexandria, Cairo, Giza and the New Capital.

25 January (Monday): 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

25-29 January (Monday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s “Davos Dialogues” (virtual)

26-28 January (Tuesday-Thursday): Future Investment Initiative, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

28 January (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

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

6-18 February (Saturday-Thursday): Mid-year school break (public schools — enjoy the break from bumper-to-bumper traffic)

20 February (Saturday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

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

13 April (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

25 April (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day.

29 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day.

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

1 May (Saturday): Labour Day (national holiday)

3 May (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

6 May (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sham El Nessim.

13-15 May (Thursday-Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

18-21 May (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting “The Great Reset”

31 May-2 June (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo.

30 May-15 June (Wednesday-Thursday): Cairo International Book Fair.

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

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

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

30 June (Wednesday): June 30 Revolution Day

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

30 June- 15 July: National Book Fair.

1 July (Thursday): Large taxpayers that have not yet signed on 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.

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

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

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

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

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year

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

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day

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

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday

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

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.

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. © 2020 Enterprise Ventures LLC.