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Thursday, 16 August 2018

Maait turns to the airwaves to dispel misconceptions about the real estate tax

The highlight of last night’s talk shows on an otherwise humdrum evening was Finance Minister Mohamed Maait discussing everything from misconceptions about the real estate tax to the government’s shift towards digital platforms.

The real estate tax is not new: Maait all but waved a giant flag emblazoned with the words “This is not a new tax,” telling Masaa DMC’s Osama Kamal that the levy has been in place since 2008 and the only development is that it will be enforced more strictly. The Finance Ministry expected to reel in around EGP 5.8 bn from the tax this year, he said (watch, runtime: 5:14). The concept of a real estate tax is also not unique to Egypt and is meant to feed back into the system by making funds available for the government to improve services. Maait also noted that units valued at less than EGP 2 mn are exempt from the tax altogether (watch, runtime: 5:50).

Tax payments are on their way to becoming digitized, with a new system currently in the works that would streamline payments by automating the entire process, Maait said. The ministry has enlisted the help of an unnamed specialized company, which will bring the new system to life within three or four years. The automated system is also expected to aid in collecting taxes from the informal economy, according to Maait (watch, runtime: 4:50).

Maait also defended the sin tax imposed on cigarettes and the recent hike in cigarette prices, telling Kamal that the World Health Organization has previously wagged its finger at Egypt for having relatively cheap cigarettes despite the hazards they pose to people’s health (watch, runtime: 4:58).

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s inauguration of a cement and marble production complex in Beni Suef yesterday (more details on which are in Up Next, below) also earned much attention on the airwaves last night. Beni Suef governor Sherif Habib hailed the complex as proof that the government is prioritizing the development of Upper Egypt. The complex, coupled with other cement production facilities in the governorate, will create an important export window for the country, he said (watch, runtime: 5:27).

Arab Investors Union head Gamal Bayoumi said much of the same on Al Hayah fi Masr, claiming that Egypt has been importing cement (despite industry leaders saying there has been a glut in the cement market since last year) and that the project will satisfy local demand (watch, runtime: 8: 38). The project is also expected to create some 13k jobs for residents of Upper Egypt, House Rep. Ali Badr said on Hona Al Asema (watch, runtime: 4:11). Yahduth fi Masr also took note of the story (watch, runtime: 3:32).

Takaful, Karama beneficiaries to get jobs under Forsa program: The Solidarity Ministry is creating 70k jobs for beneficiaries of the cash subsidy program Takaful and Karama through a new initiative, Forsa, ministry spokesman Mohamed El Okabi told Hona Al Asema. The initiative includes training sessions aimed at improving employee productivity (watch, runtime: 6:17)

The National Railways Authority is planning to launch a mobile app for train ticket bookings, NRA head Ashraf Raslan told Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer. The app is currently in beta testing and is expected to go live after the Eid Al Adha vacation (watch, runtime: 2:00).

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