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Sunday, 15 July 2018

Cabinet lays claim to portion of private accounts, government agencies’ surplus to plug budget gap

CABINET WATCH- Thursday’s meeting of the Madbouly cabinet was particularly packed. Among the highlights:

Going after slush funds: The state budget will get a shot in the arm after Cabinet ordered last week that a portion of ministerial slush funds will be earmarked to support the general budget, according to a cabinet statement. Ministries’ so-called “private accounts” are typically maintained outside the budget system and have for years been the subject of scrutiny by both the domestic press and corruption watchdogs. The central bank will collect a monthly tithe from the funds. Ministers exempted the unspent portions of education and research grants as well as social insurance funds and funds set aside social housing and university hospitals, among others. (Keep an eye on a bill now before the House Budget Committee that could regulate these private funds.)

Thursday’s decision also lays claim to 25% of any annual surplus funds generated by government agencies, which will also be collected by the central bank on the last day of every fiscal year. The prime minister will be allowed to exempt certain agencies that provide “economic or national services” from paying the duty.

Also at Cabinet’s Thursday meeting, ministers approved:

  • Launching a drive to settle overdue stamp, income tax and social insurance payments by offering relief from fines, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said during a press conference after the meeting, according to Ahram Gate. The measures will be included in a bill now in the drafdting phase;
  • The criteria that will determine how EGP 45 mn in emergency reserves will be allocated in the FY2018-19 budget.
  • A decision to allocate additional land to the dry bulk terminal projectbeing established at the Adabiya Port;
  • The renewal of an agreement between Telecom Egypt and the New and Urban Communities Authority for another three years, during which TE will carry out EGP 3.5 bn-worth of landline installation works at new developments;
  • Amendments to the Police Authority Act related to the establishment of disciplinary committees;
  • Amendments to the executive regulations of the Universities Act, as well as a decision to establish state universities in the governorates of Marsa Matrouh and New Valley;
  • A presidential pardon for some prisoners in commemoration of the 23 July revolution.

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