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Tuesday, 5 October 2021

FX reserves inch up in September. Plus: Taxing influencers and IDH launches a new radiology location

Egypt’s foreign currency reserves inched up USD 153 mn in September, reaching USD 40.83 bn from USD 40.67 bn in August, official figures released by the Central Bank of Egypt yesterday showed. FX reserves had risen USD 62.9 mn in August, after a slight USD 3 mn increase in June. Reserves are getting closer to their pre-covid peak of USD 45.5 bn in February 2020 after falling almost USD 10 bn due largely to a covid-induced sell-off of emerging-market assets around the world.

Online content creators will be able to register with the Tax Authority through their residential address by using a contract or recent bill, in measures meant to encourage YouTubers, Instagrammers, bloggers, vloggers to start paying income tax, head of the Egyptian Tax Authority Reda Abdel Kader told Al Borsa. The crackdown on online tax evasion seeks to include online content creators in the formal economy and is already afforded under the 2005 tax act, which stipulates that all income must be taxed, Tax Authority officials said last week.

Online content creators who make more than EGP 500k a year will be required to charge VAT on any services offered via their platforms.

EGX- and LSE-listed healthcare player Integrated Diagnostics Holding (IDH) launched Al-Borg Scan’s third branch, this time in Heliopolis, according to a company statement. Al-Borg’s first branch in East Cairo, it will offer patients MRIs, CT scans, ECGs and EMGs.

Egypt’s new ambassador to Ethiopia, Mohamed Omar Gad, presented his credentials yesterday to Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, state-owned Ethiopian News Agency reported, according to Arab News.

Egyptian smartphone maker Sico has begun assembling handsets for unnamed Indian and Chinese companies as it aims to become the go-to contract maker of electronics for Africa, CEO Mohamed Salem told Bloomberg. Sico, which is 20% owned by the ICT ministry, also plans to eventually produce other electronics including TVs, satellite receivers, and e-payments systems for outside pirates, Salem added.

Middle-income homebuyers are now eligible for 25-year loans under changes the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) made yesterday to a subsidized mortgage financing scheme it introduced in late 2019, the CBE said in a press release (pdf). The program — which gives individuals earning up to 40k, and households earning up to 50k per month access to a preferential 8% interest rate on their mortgage — had previously only supported loans with maturities of up to 20 years.

Other things we’re keeping an eye on this morning:

  • EFG Hermes and Microsoft are collaborating on a cloud partnership to accelerate EFG’s digital transformation and modernize its IT environment, the companies said in a statement (pdf).
  • The House of Representatives gave its preliminary approval to a draft law which imposes harsher penalties for bullying people with disabilities. Bullies could face a minimum of two years in prison or an EGP 50-100k fine.
  • The House also gave its final approval to a presidential decision granting government the authority to impose precautionary measures in the Sinai peninsula, including the imposition of a curfew in some areas and the evacuation of others.

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