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Thursday, 26 October 2017

Cabinet signs off on Investment Act regs, Universal Healthcare Act

We now officially have an Investment Act: The Ismail cabinet had a busy day on Wednesday, approving or discussing at least three major pieces of legislation. Topping the list are the long-awaited executive regulations of the Investment Act, according to an announcement by cabinet media advisor Osama Abdel Aziz picked up by Reuters. The approval of the regs, which have been with the cabinet since June, will make the Investment Act official. They outline the state’s investment-promotion framework for everything from manufacturing to healthcare. The regulations also clarify which companies or investments are eligible for incentives, in addition to setting up the rules for establishing private freezones.

You can check out the expected highlights of the regs here. They become official once published in the Official Gazette, so look for a copy of to be available for download on the interwebs anywhere between today and Sunday.

Cabinet also approved yesterday the Universal Healthcare Act and sent the bill to the House of Representatives for debate, read an official statement from the cabinet. The approval comes after the ministers discussed the technical and actuarial studies on the legislation, according to the statement. Vice Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait called the approval of the Act a victory in statements to the press following the meeting. Health Minister Ahmed Rady also told reporters that implementing universal healthcare fully will cost the state around EGP 4k per citizen per year. He expects the plan to be rolled out in 2018 and gradually cover all of Egypt by 2032.

We haven’t had the advantage of an education based on this “common core” nonsense, but a bit of mental math suggests that the cost to the state will ring in at something just shy of EGP 400 bn a year based on EGP 4k a head and just under 100 mn Egyptians resident in Egypt.

Absent yesterday was any discussion of Cabinet’s previously-announced plans to rollout price caps for private-sector healthcare providers. Health minister Rady had said in September that a bill imposing caps on private hospitals and clinics based on a still undefined tier system would also be introduced in the House this session and would pass before the Universal Healthcare Act would be rolled out. Naturally, private sector healthcare providers are not happy with the prospect. Imposing such a bill will make the sector less competitive and eat into the government’s plan to raise efficiency and quality of hospitals, the head of the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ healthcare division Alaa Abdel Maguid tells Al Borsa. He added that if the government persists in implementing the plan, it should factor in the differentials in pricing of land and access to facilities and talent among different governorates. We had noted last month that a number of industry players expect such a move to stifle growth in the sector and derail a potential M&A boom in 2018.

Cabinet also discussed the Housing Ministry’s recent amendments to the Unified Building Codes, said minister Moustafa Madbouly, according to AMAY. The bill — which focus on facilitating licensing, tightening safety codes, and better enforcement — is currently being circulated among the relevant ministries, Madbouly added.

Also approved during yesterday’s meeting: Amendments to the Criminal Procedures Act and an agreement between Egypt and Romania to scrap visa requirements for diplomats. The visa agreement was signed during Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s visit to Bucharest in August.

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