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Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Expected hikes in railway ticket prices and Egypt’s water resource management top talking heads’ agendas

The expected hike in railway ticket prices led the conversation on the airwaves last night.

Masaa DMC’s El Hosary also spoke to Transport Minister Hisham Arafat, who said that holding off until 2019 to raise railway ticket prices is not feasible. The price hikes are crucial to fund maintenance works worth EGP 55 mn and renovations to improve the quality of service, Arafat said. The minister also said that it’s important to take advantage of the overall push for reform to reverse the effects of corruption on the national rail system, which has been accumulating debt over the past several decades (watch, runtime: 8:44).

Arafat further skirted the issue of timing on the hikes on Hona Al Asema, telling host Lamees Al Hadidi that the ministry has yet to decide when the ticket prices will be hiked, but it will be “soon.” The railway sector currently has a budget deficit of around EGP 2 bn, and there are currently studies underway to determine how much ticket prices must be hiked to bridge the financing gap (watch, runtime: 10:00). Arafat elaborated on the pricing further in statements earlier in the day which we cover in the Speed Round.

Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil phoned in to state that the total value of Egypt’s exports in 2017 rose to EGP 22 bn, a 12% y-o-y increase, while imports declined by around 30% y-o-y. Kabil also told Lamees that the industrial sector is steadily growing, and currently accounts for 18% of Egypt’s GDP. To support that growth, the government has allocated large land plots for industrial companies, and is working with the Armed Forces’ Engineering Authority to design and construct 13 industrial complexes in 12 governorates (watch, runtime: 9:29).

Lamees also sat down with Saudi businessman Hussein Shobokshi, who had a glowing forecast for Egypt’s economic growth in 2018. The improvement of business conditions has boosted investors’ confidence in the Egyptian market, which has significant potential to become a hub for manufacturing and exporting products to the MENA region and Africa (watch, runtime: 12:27).

Shobokshi discussed with Lamees the economic reforms Saudi Arabia is currently undertaking, noting that this is part of the government’s preparation for the post-oil era to ensure that the country’s economic resources remain intact. He also said that the kingdom and other Gulf countries are moving towards increased reliance on sustainable and renewable energy sources (watch, runtime: 19:48).

Kol Youm’s Amr Adib took note of several national projects inaugurated by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in 10 Ramadan City yesterday. Adib said that the government is exerting significant effort into its projects, most notably the laundry list of social housing projects presented by Housing Minister Moustafa Madbouli, but citizens don’t seem to feel the effect of these projects (watch, runtime: 4:10).

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