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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Cabinet approves draft to settle tax disputes, bans rice export again

Positioning the move as being part of the reform process, the Ismail cabinet approved the draft Settlement of Taxation Disputes Act at its meeting yesterday. Finance Minister Amr El Garhy told Al Masry Al Youm that the bill is meant to address over 150k disputes worth a combined EGP 48 bn that are currently before the Administrative Judiciary and the Tax Authority. The draft law will be sent to the State Council (Maglis El Dowla) for revision, he added. Cabinet also reinstituted a ban on rice exports as it gears up for domestic harvest season. It set the buying price at EGP 2,300 per tonne of domestically harvested thin-grain rice, and EGP 2,400 for a tonne of wide-grain rice. The government is looking to buy 2 mn tonnes of domestically harvested rice. Within the last 12 months, the government has now banned rice exports, rescinded its ban, and imposed it a second time. We continue to maintain that we have no business growing as water-intensive a crop as rice — and that exporting it is tantamount to exporting water. Other decisions taken by the cabinet include:

  • Approved a plan to connect 2.4 mn homes with natural gas between January 2016 and June 2018. Cabinet had previously voted to add 1 mn homes to the grid in FY 2016/17;
  • Approved five oil and gas E&P projects (see below);
  • Tasked the Arab Contractors with completing the second phase of an international cycling track project;
  • Approved the addition of three segments to the social housing program.

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