Back to the complete issue
Thursday, 4 May 2017

House could vote on Investment Act today after Economic Committee decides to keep private free zones against Finance Ministry’s wishes

After reports of drama yesterday and Tuesday, could today be the day the House finally votes on the Investment Act? The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Investment Act in a plenary session today now that the debate over the return of private free zones has been put to rest, MPs tell Al Borsa. The House Economic Committee voted on Wednesday to keep articles they introduced last Saturday that allow for the establishment of new private free zones, which the government of the day had stripped from the act in 2015.

The House has the final say on the matter, but the committee’s decision goes against the wishes of the Finance Ministry. The ministry had spoken against private-sector-run free zones several times over the past few months, arguing that the zones do little to boost exports and have a negative impact on state coffers. Deputy Finance Minister Amr El Monayer told Al Mal that the ministry restated its objections to members of the Economic Committee, hoping to change their minds.

Debate over free zones opens up a can of worms: Apart from private free zones, other amendments introduced by the committee appear to be stirring trouble with ministers who said they had not been notified in advance. Trade Minister Tarek Kabil was particularly unhappy about articles that would give the General Authority for Free Zones and Investment sole jurisdiction over tendering land to investors in various fields. Kabil reportedly threatened to pull out of the meeting when the debate with MPs grew heated after he argued that the move adds unnecessary red tape to the process, which he believes should be carried by each respective ministry independently. Finance Minister Amr El Garhy was also displeased with the decision to offer additional incentives and tax rebates to investors, which MPs eventually agreed to curb. CIT Minister Yasser Al Qadi was also present at the meeting to lobby against the Economic Committee’s move to remove articles relating to the establishment of technological zones.

Tensions running high around the cabinet table? Unnamed state officials tell AMAY that the ministers are not too happy with Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr, who is portrayed as having signed-off on the amendments without consulting them first. House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal is said to have had to broker talks between El Garhy and Nasr on Tuesday, Al Borsa says. The ministers have reportedly asked Prime Minister Sherif Ismail to intervene, the newspaper adds, and Ismail met with House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, according to Ahram Gate.

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. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt; Hassan Allam Properties (tax ID:  553-096-567), one of Egypt’s most prominent and leading builders; and Saleh, Barsoum & Abdel Aziz (tax ID: 220-002-827), the leading audit, tax and accounting firm in Egypt.