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Thursday, 12 April 2018

Cabinet greenlights EGP 200 bn sovereign wealth fund, farmers aren’t happy with wheat prices

The talking heads had a selection of topics to keep them busy last night, most notable of which was the Ismail Cabinet greenlighting the establishment of a EGP 200 bn sovereign wealth fund. We have chapter and verse in Speed Round, below.

But first: Argineering won EGP 100,000 in the CIB-sponsored Hona Al Shabab startup competition on Hona Al Asema. Couponat and Star Marine landed in second and third place, respectively.

Now onto the new sovereign wealth fund: The fund is meant to put untapped assets to use, Cabinet spokesman Ashraf Sultan said. He noted that the state has around 100 sizeable assets and a plethora of smaller assets that are either mismanaged or not capitalized on at all. The new fund may play a role in setting up new companies, upping existing companies’ capital, or investing in listed securities, Sultan told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Tamer Amin (watch, runtime: 4:21).

Although farmers maybe disgruntled, the wheat purchasing price set by the government is fair and suitable, Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy told Amin. The price was determined according to a formula that draws on the average USD exchange rate and takes into consideration the expense of subsidizing bread, which is expected to cost state coffers EGP 16 bn from local wheat alone, the minister said (watch, runtime: 7:10).

The drop in global wheat prices justifies the price announced by the government, Farmers’ Syndicate head Hussein Abu Saddam nodded in agreement. Abu Saddam suggested that reducing the price of agricultural supplies such as fertilizers could help offset disappointment and encourage upset farmers to continue cultivating wheat. Around 3.2 mn feddans of wheat were planted this season, he told Yahduth fi Misr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 3:44).

Meanwhile, Vice Minister of Finance for Capital Market Operations Khaled Abdelrahman spent his evening giving Amin an economics crash course on Al Hayah Al Youm. He dove into all there is to know about bonds and explained what the recent EUR 2 bn eurobond issuance means for Egypt, telling Amin that the choice to go with a EUR-denominated issuance was based on Egypt’s strong trade relations with Europe (watch, runtime: 14:01).

Over on Masaa DMC, scientist Farouk El Baz called on the government to be transparent in laying out its plans for the next four years and clearly articulate the country’s problems to the citizenry (watch, runtime: 4:56).

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