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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

El Garhy on next year’s budget projections; the House’ aversion to free speech; Mall of Egypt opening tomorrow

Finance Minister Amr El Garhy phoned in to Hona Al Assema last night. El Garhy said the2017-18 deficit should come in at c. 9.5% of GDP, with GDP growth estimated to reach 4%. The budget will be presented to the House on 1 April. “We are still not sure when the IMF mission will visit, as early April coincides with the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and IMF,” he said.

Speaking on the proposed stamp tax rate of 0.175% on stock market transactions, El Garhy stressed that this was not set in stone, but that the ministry was still studying it as an option. He added that we still have to wait for the House to formally and legally delay the capital gains tax for another three years. The minister also old host Lamees El Hadidy that the move to decrease the customs exchange rate to EGP 15.75 for the USD 1 would surely help drive down inflation (watch, runtime: 7:34).

Lamees Al Hadidi then covered the mounting tension between the House of Reps and the press. The latest: MPs have backed controversial Rep. Mortada Mansour’s demand that the House request the Prosecutor General’s Office open an investigation of columnist and former talk show host Ibrahim Eissa. Mansour claims Eissa is guilty of “insulting Parliament” and alleges the Suspendered One committed libel in a column for Al Maqal that likened parliamentarians to cartoon characters. MP Ahmed Imbaby was deputized to speak for the thin-skinned folk in the House, telling Lamees in a call-in that while MPs welcome criticism, “we have been witnessing attacks from many newspapers for a while.” Lamees took the MP to school on freedom of the press. Her comments fell on deaf ears (watch, runtime: 20:08).

(Paging Mr. Kafka: Elsewhere, House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal has lambasted state-owned Al-Ahram’s breaking news website for running a piece that was “insulting” to the House, but refused to identify the article in questions, Al Ahram reports. Al Ahram’s board of directors responded with a statement defending its reporters. Meanwhile, Al Shorouk has more on the Eissa-Mansour flap.)

Kol Youm’s Amr Adib interviewed Majid Al Futtaim CEO Alain Bejjani on tomorrow’s opening of the Mall of Egypt. “Mall of Egypt is MAF’s most important investment in Egypt,” said Bejjani, adding that the company envisaged a mall by the Pyramids that could compete on an international level. The mall will contain 350 commercial outlets, 21 VOX cinema screens, a Carrefour, hypermarket, and oh, yeah, a ski slope (watch, runtime: 18:24). We hate to say it, but we really like the ski slope…

Adib then spoke on investor interest in the government’s 1.5 mn feddan land reclamation project with Atter Hanoura, chairman of the Egyptian Rural Development Company, which manages the megaproject. Hanoura told Adib that demand for land in the first phase exceeded the 500K feddans on offer (watch, runtime: 2:25).

Al Hayah Al Youm’s Tamer Amin interviewed Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy on the ministry’s wastewater management program (watch, runtime: 2:13) and Germany’s ambassador to Egypt Julius Georg Luy German on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s itinerary for her trip to Masr (watch, runtime: 3:21).

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