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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Cabinet signs off on Consumer Protection Act

The Ismail cabinet signed off yesterday on the draft Consumer Protection Act and referred it to the Council of State for review, an official statement said. The legislation sets stricter penalties for violations such as price gouging, hoarding of goods, and failing to meet health and quality requirements to name a few. It also makes it mandatory for shopkeepers to print out receipts for every transaction and outlines guidelines for returning purchases. The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) will also be opening up more branches across the country to become more accessible to a larger segment of the population.

There was no mention in the statement about a direct price control mechanism, something suggested by unnamed government officials earlier this month. Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy had ruled out last month that the act would give the CPA or any other government agency the ability to cap prices in a bid to curb inflation. We’ll be checking the bill the instant we get our hands on it to confirm we’re officially in the clear.

Cabinet also approved a draft law that sets a legal framework for ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Careem. The 23-article bill would set rules for the use of privately-owned vehicles, stipulating in its current form that only a vehicle’s owner could drive it as an Uber or Careem employee and that they would be able to use it for seven hours a day at most. Service providers, who will be made to pay taxes and take out insurance policies covering their drivers and passengers, will also have to acquire permits for the vehicles under the proposed act. Ride-hailing apps have six months to comply with new regulations once issued.

Cabinet also ratified an agreement to import around 12 mn bbl of crude oil a year from Iraq. The pact will be signed “within days,” Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla told the press on Monday. The first 2 mn bbl are due to arrive in May and both sides are expected to negotiate an agreement to refine Iraqi crude in Egypt and re-export back to Iraq as finished products.

El Molla also announced yesterday that Egypt “might” use part of its World Bank loan to repay its arrears to international oil companies. It has been suggested on Saturday the payment will be substantially less than promised.

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