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Monday, 14 November 2016

Spotlight on day 2 of the Akhbar El Youm Conference

Following up on the first day of the Akhbar El Youm Economic Conference, more ministers gave their thoughts and plans for the future in the second day:

Investment Minister Dalia Khorshid: The Investment Ministry is expecting an average of USD 15-25 bn in foreign direct and indirect investment over the coming three years, Minister Dalia Khorshid told Al Mal. The program presented to the IMF projects USD 9.4 mn in FDI in FY 2016-17, she added. Khorshid stressed that the incentives package offered as part of new the Investment Law were primarily geared towards exports and also prioritize SME development.

Industry and Trade Minister Tarek Kabil: The government aims to impose a nominal annual tax of EGP 100 (that will be applied retroactively) on “SMEs” (we believe a more appropriate term would be “micro- and very-small enterprises”) in an effort to encourage these businesses to file tax returns and integrate them into the formal economy, said the minister. The policy was one of the 17 pro-investment policies issued by the Supreme Investment Council.

Supply Minister Mohamed Ali El Sheikh had one point to make: Raising the value of commodities on the monthly ration card to will cost the state bns, AMAY reports. The minister’s math (as reported) doesn’t stack up, but the points holds. Interestingly, El Sheikh issued an apology of sorts for the sugar shortage, but not for the confiscation drive: The minister continued to paint the private sector as Marie Antoinette, blaming it for exacerbating the issue. He practically told Egyptians to go on a diet, stating that Egypt consumes 18 mn tonnes of wheat per year when it only really needs 7 mn, Al Mal reports. In case the people still want their gluten fix, the government has raised its wheat storage capacity to 9 mn tonnes.

Housing Minister Moustafa Madbouly: Generating FX appears to be a key short-term goal for the Housing Ministry, as the cabinet had instructed it to draw in around USD 1 bn in new investments, according to statements by Madbouly at the conference. The New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) plans to have its first mass land sale in USD targeting expatriates and foreign investors, said the minister. The move will be part of what Madbouly called the largest land sale in newly developed urban areas ever, which the ministry is currently preparing. Madbouly spoke of the sale of 155 feddans in New Cairo to a Saudi real estate investment firm for USD 238 mn — which will paid to NUCA in cash — as an example of the success the ministry has had in drawing in investments. What this means to the affordability of new land and new developments is simply mind-boggling.

International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr: The ministryhas thus far secured up to USD 2.9 bn from Egypt’s development partners to support SMEs, 20% of which is in the form of grants, Nasr stated at the conference’s SME session.

Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Waly: The ministry plans to increase the number of beneficiaries from the Takaful and Karama cash benefits programs to 4.3 mn families by the end of the current fiscal year, Al Borsa reports. This appears to be a substantial increase from the previously stated target of 1.7 mn families by next year, which Waly had said just this month would cost the state EGP 2.5 bn. Looks like they’re really putting that IMF loan to good use on that social welfare front.

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