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Thursday, 9 August 2018

State-owned newspaper prices expected to rise

A decision from the National Press Authority to hike state-owned newspaper prices was the topic du jour on the airwaves last night. The decision comes as a measure to offset the rising cost of paper, which Egypt imports.

The price hike would be “limited” and would be capped at EGP 1 or 2 per issue, which would help stymie newspapers’ significant financial losses, authority head Karam Gabr told Masaa DMC. The increase has become necessary after the cost of paper rose to USD 950 per tonne, up from USD 550 previously, Dar Al Tahrir Chairman Saad Selim said (watch, runtime: 9:14).

The authority and Press Syndicate are looking into alternative solutions, including having state and private newspapers team up to set up a paper factory, Press Syndicate head Abdel Mohsen Salama told Hona Al Asema’s Lama Gebril. They apparently also think that trying to get the Finance Ministry to subsidize paper when the government is trying to eliminate all other subsidies could be a good solution. Egypt’s journalism industry has been crippled by rising costs of materials, including paper and ink, but is also facing a bit of a crisis in terms of content and performance, Salama said (watch, runtime: 7:13).

Private newspapers might be forced to follow suit as they face the same financial squeeze, Al Shorouk’s Managing Director Ahmed Bedair said, noting that many newspapers have been in the red for a while, with many resorting to laying off employees (watch, runtime: 4:46).

Raising prices might actually make things worse for newspapers if the move backfires and reduces their readership, Al Masry Al Youm Editor-in-Chief Abdel Moneim Saeed told Yahduth fi Masr. Saeed stressed that all options are still on the table for private newspapers as they assess the situation to decide on the best path forward (watch, runtime: 6:10).

Egypt’s population growth remains the country’s biggest risk factor, IMF Executive Director Hazem Beblawi (who was once interim prime minister of Egypt) told Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer. Beblawi shrugged off Amer’s concerns about Egypt’s debt levels, saying that being able to borrow at all is actually an indicator of a strong economy and reflects confidence in the economy’s future. He also noted that debt in general is not bad as long as it is put to use correctly. Beblawi praised the strides Egypt has taken in its reform program, reminding viewers that the measures were all “tough but necessary” (watch, runtime: 10:10).

Shoukry wraps up two-day trip to Washington, DC: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with a wide range of American businessmen in Washington yesterday as he wrapped up his brief visit, Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid told Al Hayah fi Masr. Shoukry’s meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (which we recap in detail in Speed Round, below) and Tuesday’s sit-down with National Security Advisor John Bolton come ahead of a planned 2+2 meeting with both countries’ foreign and defense ministers, Abu Zeid said (watch, runtime: 6:32).

On money laundering and investment: Former Banque Misr deputy chairman Sahar Damaty and former assistant interior minister for economic security Nagah Fawzy each gave their two cents on money laundering and how it ties into investments on Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 15:52).

Education was the order of the day on Al Hayah fi Masr, where host Kamal Mady hosted Education Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Khairy to discuss the new public education system (watch, runtime: 21:04) and Deputy Education Minister for Technical Education Affairs Mohamed Megahed for a chat about developing technical education in Egypt (watch, runtime: 19:52).

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