Wednesday,24 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1121, 8-14 November
Wednesday,24 April, 2019
Issue 1121, 8-14 November

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

Property tax shelved again
THE FINANCE Ministry has once again postponed the application of new property taxes to January 2014. The new tax was issued in 2008, but due to public opposition it was put off several times.
The ministry announced this week that although it had finished the assessment of real estate units, the tax would be postponed for the fourth time until the People’s Assembly can amend the law to make it acceptable to the public. The amendments will target loopholes in the law, including exempting family homes.
Amendments might also include business units such as shops in villages and small shops and enterprises in cities. It is expected that the total annual revenues of the property tax would reach LE2 billion. The government last year decided that 25 per cent of tax receipts would be directed to developing slums.

Wheat in the pipeline
A NATIONAL Wheat Project (NWP) is set to be launched by the government next week. The project aims at bridging the gap between local wheat production and total consumption, to help achieve wheat self-sufficiency within five years. The NWP, with total investments of LE15 billion, will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation in cooperation with the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation. The project will be funded by grants from Egyptian expatriate businessmen and a group of Arab and Islamic finance associations. The names of Wheat Council members who will be responsible of the project have yet to be announced by Prime Minister Hisham Kandil.
The government plans to increase the area cultivated with wheat to four million feddans to help fill the gap between consumption and production. The areas that will be planted with wheat are already included in the Agriculture Ministry’s plan of new projects that enjoy sustainable irrigation sources. This will save at least $1 billion annually used to pay for wheat imports. Local output of wheat witnessed a remarkable increase, going from 7.1 million tonnes in 2009/2010 to 8.3 million tonnes in 2010/2011. The General Authority for Supply Commodities expects to import 4.8 million tonnes of wheat in fiscal year 2012/2013 down from 5.3 million tonnes last year.

Italians in Cairo
A GROUP of 50 Italian businessmen arrived in Cairo Sunday to discuss with the government and business community ways to boost commercial relations between Egypt and Italy and promote joint ventures between the two countries.
Antonio Badini, head of the Italian Association for Cooperation and Friendship with Egypt, said that Italy is ready to inject some $200 billion in investment opportunities in Egypt. “Given the challenging times we are facing, we found Egypt as our natural economic partner,” Badini said at a press conference this week in Cairo.
The mission introduced five initiatives to the Egyptian government for investment in the fields of agriculture, tourism, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), renewable energy, and vocational training.
For his part, Khaled Abu Bakr, president of the Italian-Egyptian Business Council, said that President Mohamed Morsi’s visit to Italy in September sent a clear message that “Egypt is back to work and investment.” He added that businesses should not be affected by political instability. “Italy has been witnessing political struggles for 30 years and still they are working, producing, and exporting.” For this reason, he said, Italians are not afraid to invest in an unstable political environment.
Abu Bakr further stated that the rapid shipping line between Alexandria and Venice, which had come to a halt following the revolution, would resume soon, highlighting its importance in transporting Egypt’s agricultural products to Europe in a mere 48 hours.
As for forthcoming Italian investments in Egypt, Abu Bakr pointed out that they would be in the fields of renewable energy and SMEs foremost, in addition to establishing an Italian industrial zone.
Trade between Egypt and Italy stands at $6 billion while Italian investments in Egypt amount to $2.5 billion represented in 830 companies, according to Ahmed Galal, chairman of the International Business and Investment Association.
Italian exports to Egypt include agricultural and mineral products, electrical components and plastic products. Egyptian exports to Italy compromise petroleum products, natural gas, cotton, and agricultural and chemical products.
President Morsi visited Italy in September with the aim of attracting more investments to revive the Egyptian economy. The visit resulted in the signing of several agreements between the two sides.

Exchanging expertise
TO BOOST economic and business development between Egypt and Greece, the Egyptian Junior Business Association (EJB) and the Greek Chamber of Commerce in Cairo (GCCC) signed a cooperation protocol aimed at encouraging commercial and cultural exchange between the two countries. The protocol focuses on improving leadership skills and social responsibility.
After signing the protocol, Omar Sabbour, chairman of the EJB, and Antonios Diamantidis, head of the GCCC, said that the cooperation agreement between their countries will work towards the promotion of the entrepreneurial spirit among their members, establishing working committees for sectoral groups by creating networks among members and kick-starting cooperation of young entrepreneurs with international associations.
Sabbour and Diamantidis added that the cooperation protocol aims to serve as a bridge for the promotion of local cooperation, provide a platform for dynamic business people, and work towards sharing in a knowledge-based economy.“Despite the transitional changes that both countries have undergone, unity between Egypt and Greece hasn’t waned. The two dynamic organisations that have signed the protocol will build a new development networking platform which will provide new business opportunities and increase the existing ones,” said Aliki Potonou, business development consultant at the Greek Chamber.

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