Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1241, (9-15 April 2015)
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1241, (9-15 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

On the reform track

Egypt will offer stakes in four public-sector companies over the coming three months to raise capital starting with two state-owned petroleum companies, Investment Minister Ashraf Salman said during an event organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Cairo this week.

The details of the initial public offerings (IPOs) for the two petroleum companies will be announced in a couple of weeks, he said. Two other public-sector companies are also scheduled for IPOs, and although the minister did not specify which these companies were the government said some time back that it would offer stakes in companies operating in the food sector.

The offerings are part of the government’s reform plans to boost growth and investment. The minister said the government would continue on a path of reform by continuing the partial removal of subsidies, fiscal consolidation and the deregulation of government-owned sectors such as pharmaceuticals and education. Steps have already been taken in the electricity sector to open it up to the private sector.

The minister said work was underway to finish the executive regulations for the recently issued laws on investment and the civil service. He acknowledged that impediments persisted, but said the government was focused on resolving them to get the economy moving.

Referring to the one-stop shop for investors aimed at facilitating investment procedures and permits, the minister said that investors would start feeling improvements in the coming few weeks but the target was to have the shop fully operational in 18 months. The one-stop shop will mean that the General Authority for Free Zones and Investment (GAFI) will replace the governorates and other government bodies when issuing licenses, the minister said.

Salman also addressed the issue of hard currency shortages, saying that the problem would diminish before the end of the current financial year owing to new money pledged from the Gulf and increased investment. Several Gulf countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, pledged $12.5 billion in deposits and assistance during the recent Egypt Economic Development Conference. Salman said the deposits from the three countries were scheduled to be made before the end of the month.

He was upbeat about prospects for the economy, saying he expected a growth rate of 4.2 per cent for the current fiscal year, compared to around two per cent over the past three years. He also expected between $6 and $8 billion in foreign direct investment, as well as a lower unemployment rate of 12.8 per cent compared to the current rate of 13.1 per cent.

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