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Sunday, 24 January 2021

What we’re tracking on 24 January 2021

Good morning, friends. The big news this morning: Egypt’s covid-19 vaccination campaign kicks off today targeting the most at-risk frontline healthcare workers — and we’ll know more about the plan for a wider rollout later in the day as Health Minister Hala Zayed holds a presser this morning.

It’s early days, but it’s also exceptionally good news. As CIB chief Hussein Abaza said earlier this month: “The prospect of a vaccine is a game changer. We’re still in a tunnel, but we can see the light. The only question is how much longer we have to go.”

Also this week: Tomorrow is the 10-year anniversary of the events of 25 January 2011. Expect to see a stepped-up security presence in and around downtown.

It’s a four-day workweek as we observe the Police Day / Revolution Day holiday this coming Thursday, 28 January. The central bank has confirmed that Thursday is a bank holiday, so you can expect an announcement soon from the EGX.

We then settle in for our long annual holiday drought: Your next day off will be Sinai Liberation Day in mid-Ramadan. The Holy Month should start on or about Monday, 13 April.

Expect more talk this week of a cabinet shuffle, particularly after newly-rehabilitated Ahmed Moussa used his bully pulpit on Ala Mas’ouleety all last week to castigate the ministers of information, supply and local development. All three also took fire from MPs as the new House of Representatives put in its first full week of work. Conventional wisdom is that you can expect the cabinet economic group to remain in place.

On the legislative agenda this week: The House Planning and Budgeting Committee convenes tomorrow to discuss proposed amendments to the VAT Act and a bill to exempt government treasuries sold on international markets from fees and taxes, reports Al Mal. The changes to the VAT law would apply the 14% tax to the rent and purchase of commercial and administrative properties.

The amendments would, if passed, also hike taxes on crackers and some forms of sweets by scrapping a 5% schedule tax and instead making them subject to the full 14% VAT. A senior official at Edita denied a report that the tax hike would push the sweetmaker to scrap capex spending this year, telling us instead on Thursday that the company was prepared to “move through a price point migration and a portfolio optimization strategy” as it did after the float of the EGP.

Russian officials will land in Hurghada on Wednesday for the umpteenth inspection of the airport’s security measures, ahead of a possible resumption of flights between Russia and the Red Sea resort town, Al Masry Al Youm reports.


PSA- Businesses have until 31 January (a week from today) to file wage tax returns for 2020 including separate filings for the first and second halves of the year. Sole traders and folks who generate income from outside of their day job will also need to file electronically for the first time.

Don’t sweat it if you have a day job with a company: Salaried employees in Egypt do not file income tax returns, but have taxes deducted at source by their employer, which is responsible for remitting the wage taxes to the state. Your employer will be telling the state before 31 January who you are, what your national ID (or passport number) is and how much you made in 2020.

PSA- Time is running out if you haven’t paid income, value-added, or real estate taxes and want to settle up without late fees. Late taxpayers are still eligible for a 50% exemption on interest fees and late penalties until 12 February under a bill passed last year, Tax Authority boss Reda Abdel Kader said last week, according to Al Shorouk.

There are plenty of things you can (virtually) attend over the course of this week:

The World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda is happening Monday through Friday. The Swiss ski town of Davos, which traditionally plays host to the annual gathering, is getting a break this year as the coronavirus forces the global elite to take to Zoom. A discussion on the global economic recovery will open the conference tomorrow morning while Chinese President Xi Jinping will be able to set the tone for the event when he gives the first special address in the afternoon.

An in-person WEF event is still in the cards for this year, scheduled to take place between 13-16 May in Singapore.

AUC’s School of Business is hosting a webinar this Tuesday on “Rethinking Macroeconomics in the Digital Age” to discuss how technological change is changing the way we think about macroeconomics, investment, training the labor force and access to finance. The event will feature Subir Lall, the IMF’s deputy director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department. You can register for the webinar here.

A little further afield: It’s Davos in the Desert (yes, yes, we know, we’re not supposed to call it that) at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh (Tuesday-Thursday)

Egypt will face Slovenia tonight at 7 pm CLT for the final group game of the 2021 Men’s Handball World Championships. After the national team’s comfortable 35-26 victory over Belarus on Friday, a victory tonight should seal progress to the next round.

How are the group winners decided? The top two teams in each group will progress to the quarter finals, but in the event that teams are tied the winners will be decided based on head-to-head results, rather than on goal difference.

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