Wheat under control
DESPITE an increase in the international price of wheat, the government this week renewed its commitment to providing subsidised bread at its current price (LE0.05 per baladi loaf). Government officials said consumers would not feel the increase in wheat prices, as the budget would cover the difference.
Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif presented a report to President Hosni Mubarak explaining the impact on prices of the Russian decision to halt wheat exports. The report, which was conducted by the ministries of agriculture and land reclamation, finance, trade and industry, and social solidarity, stated that the strategic supply of locally produced as well as imported wheat is enough for the coming four months.
According to the report, Egypt imports wheat from several countries, including France, the US and the Ukraine. This policy of diversification aims at avoiding the impact of fluctuations in the international market. The report explained that 70 per cent of Egypt's wheat import deals were concluded before the increase in prices.
Meanwhile, the government announced that it would continue to apply a policy of supporting small farmers by providing them good prices for strategic crops such as wheat, corn and cotton, to encourage production. According to official announcements, the government will buy such crops at prices that might exceed international prices. Amin Abaza, minister of agriculture and land reclamation, announced that the Ministry of Agriculture is also applying a plan to expand the cultivation of wheat to reach four million feddans as well as raising feddan productivity. Abaza's target is 75 per cent self-sufficiency over the coming 10 years.
It's about responsibility
A FEW months after its launch, the Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (Mobinil) has topped the list among 100 other Egyptian companies in the ESG Index this week. Mobinil was followed by Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) in second position, with the Egyptian Transport and Commercial Services Company (EGYTRANS) coming third.
The ESG Index is a means to assess the performance of EGX 100 companies, as it includes a quantitative as well as qualitative examination of how transparent a company's practices are and whether or not a company complies with the principles of good corporate governance and environmental and social responsibility.
The ESG index has been developed by the Egyptian Corporate Responsibility Centre (ECRC) in partnership with the Egyptian Stock Exchange and with the technical help of a consortium of international rating companies.
Not enough gas for electricity
THE MINISTRIES of petroleum and electricity have been involoved in a heated squabble over the amount of gas delivered for electricity generation. The Ministry of Electricity complained that electricity stations continue to receive less gas, therefore, they have become more dependent on fuel oil which does not even comply with local standards. "Electricity generation has thus been reduced by 1,600 megawatt," said Mohamed Awad, chairman of Egypt's Electricity Holding Company, who was quoted by the daily Al-Ahram on Wednesday. On its part, the Ministry of Petroleum had announced a day earlier that gas supplies to the electricity sector cover the needs of various gas-run electricity generators. The announcement came as the government has been facing tremendous pressure to produce more electricity to meet ever-growing needs, thanks to a lingering heat wave throughout the summer.
According to Mahmoud Latif, chairman of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), the average production of gas-generated electricity has reached 82 per cent in 2009/10, which is exceptional compared to other countries, where the average is around 21 per cent.
Meanwhile, the executive director of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), Abdallah Ghorab, underlined that electricity stations have been supplied fuel oil sufficient to generate nine per cent more electricity during August, as planned by the Ministry of Electricity.
Booming ITFC business
THE INTERNATIONAL Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, announced that it carried out trade finance operations worth $1.253 billion with 16 countries during the first half of 1431 AH (2010).
The primary objective of the ITFC is to facilitate intra-trade among member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) using Sharia-compliant instruments. The IDB Group seeks to foster the economic development and social progress of its 56 member countries and Muslim communities in accordance with the principles of Islamic law.
The lion's share of trade financing went to member countries in OIC, at more than 80 per cent or $1.014 billion of the total value of the trade finance operations. Non-OIC member countries received $239 million for the same period.
According to Walid Bin Abdel-Mohsen Al-Wohaib, CEO of ITFC, the volume of trade finance for least developed member countries reached $501 million, or 40 per cent of total finance operations. One of the ITFC's primary objectives, according to Al-Wohaib, is to enhance the economic welfare of such member countries.
Geographically, Asia and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member countries accounted for the largest portion of trade finance volume, at 51 per cent of total operations in the period covered.
OBG report out
OXFORD Business Group's 2010 report on Egypt is out. The global publishing, research and consultancy firm's report includes comprehensive coverage of the energy, industry, finance, banking, tourism, transport and real estate sectors. It looks at the country's economic activity and investment opportunities and offeres a wide range of interviews with the most prominent political, economic and business leaders.
According to Robert Tashima, OBG's Regional Editor, Egypt had shown considerable resilience to the challenges of the global downturn by continuing to attract investment and increasing non-oil exports.
Produced in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Egypt, CI Capital, Helmy, Hamza & Partners/Baker & McKenzie and Deloitte -- Saleh, Barsoum & Abdel Aziz, the publication also charts the effect on the country's financial services sector following the set-up of the Egyptian Financial Services Authority. It also provides an insight into the extensive overhaul which the main stock index and exchange have undergone and considers the promising prospects for new listings and IPOs during the coming year after a quiet 2009.
APICORP net income up
THE ARAB Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP), owned by the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), has reported this week a $47 million net income for the first half of 2010, a 95 per cent rise compared to the first six months of 2009. Headquartered in Al-Khobar/Dammam, in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, APICORP is a multilateral bank created with a mandate to assist the development of member states' hydrocarbon sectors through project loans, trade finance and direct equity investments.
"This income has exceeded our budgeted estimates for this period of the year and gives us a stable foundation for optimising APICORP's funding mix and diversify its investments in new sectors within the oil and gas industry," said Ahmed Bin Hamad Al-Nuaimi, chief executive officer and general manager of APICORP in a press release. He also said that he expects APICORP to take advantage of the large oil and gas projects expected to be implemented in the Arab world over the coming years.
By the end of June 2010, the total income of APICORP was $52 million, a 75 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2009. The Egyptian government owns three per cent of shares in APICORP which has an authorised capital of $1.2 billion and a fully paid and subscribed capital of $550 million. Earlier this year, APICORP received a first-time issuer rating of A1 from Moody's Investors Service for long-term debt and Prime-1 for short-term debt.