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Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Business and economics finally reign supreme on Egypt’s talk shows

Business and economics were the topic du jour (albeit with covid-19 undertones) on the airwaves for the first time in as long as we can remember. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait phoned in to several talk shows to discuss President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s decree earlier this week to extend tax payment deadlines and support key industries.

The Finance Ministry is working on getting its ducks in a row to cover the expenses from the state’s economic support packages, including a three-month stipend for irregular workers and providing loans for the aviation industry, Maait told Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 5:19).

Egypt is committed to meeting its foreign debt obligations, Maait added.

EGP 2 bn payout for export subsidies on the way: The government has already earmarked EGP 2 bn it will dole out in export subsidy arrears to exporters, Maait said on Al Tasea Masa’an (watch, runtime: 20:08). El Sisi had ordered the Export Subsidy Fund to dole out at least 30% of the arrears it owes to exporters, with each company receiving at least EGP 5 mn apiece.

Legislation for tax postponements, exemptions coming soon: The ministry has coordinated with the House of Representatives to approve as soon as possible a bill that would allow Cabinet to either postpone tax deadlines or exempt specific industries from tax payments, Maait told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal.

Factories will likely get a real estate tax holiday: Cabinet and the House have preliminarily agreed to exempt factories from the real estate tax, Maait said, without delving into the details on how long the tax holiday would be. Tourism industry establishments will also be exempt from real estate taxes, but have yet to decide whether factories will also get the same treatment. Any tax relief will be contingent on businesses retaining all of their employees, Maait stressed (watch, runtime: 9:53).

On that note: El Sisi’s calls for the private sector to refrain from layoffs or salary cuts was a focal point for Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan, who noted that the president promised the government will help businesses do just that (watch, runtime: 3:56).

Qalaa Holding’s investments are still going according to plan this year despite current conditions, Chairman Ahmed Heikal told Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 4:56 and watch, runtime: 5:53). Heikal said he expects the crisis to last around a year, during which time the food and beverage and pharma industries are expected to be the best performers. The Qalaa boss also lauded the government’s response to the covid-19 outbreak, saying it was measured and well-delivered.

The Health Ministry’s daily report on covid-19 infections and deaths was also recapped by Min Masr’s Reham Ibrahim (watch, runtime: 3:57) and Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan (watch, runtime: 2:55. We have the roundup in What We’re Tracking Today, above.

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