Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1425, (10 - 16 January 2019)
Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Issue 1425, (10 - 16 January 2019)

Ahram Weekly


Gas plan

EGYPT will implement an automatic price indexation mechanism on 95 octane gasoline starting in April, Petroleum Minister Tarek Al-Molla said on Monday. “This does not mean an increase in prices during the second quarter of this year. The price may fall or rise or stabilise at its current rate,” Al-Molla said. The pricing mechanism links local fuel prices to international rates.

Egypt is pushing ahead with tough economic reforms as part of a three-year $12 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan deal signed in 2016. The reforms include new taxes, deep cuts to energy subsidies and a currency devaluation, putting tens of millions of Egyptians under financial strain. In June last year, Egypt raised gasoline prices by up to 50 per cent under the IMF programme.

Landlord and tenant

CHAIRPERSON of parliament’s Housing Committee Alaa Wali on Sunday dismissed press reports which claimed that the committee had almost finalised amending the old law regulating the landlord-tenant relationship. Landlords have long demanded that the law originally issued in 1964 be amended to change its articles freezing rents. “The government has not yet submitted to parliament its version of the proposed amendments to this law,” Wali said, noting that the final say will be left to the government, and that there should be an extensive national dialogue to explore views of all sectors of society. According to Wali, the amended law should not lead to raising rents of old housing units in dramatic and abrupt fashion, but it should also make sure that landlords receive adequate return from their property.

Amendments to income tax

PARLIAMENT’s Planning and Budget Committee is about to discuss amendments to the income tax that would impose a 10 per cent tax on capital gains realised by both listed and unlisted private companies. 

Currently, the law imposes a 22.5 per cent capital gains tax on unlisted companies and 10 per cent on listed companies. However, taxes on listed companies are frozen until 2020. 

Observers believe that such a move would encourage the merger and acquisition activities among unlisted companies by reducing the cost of these transactions.

This is the latest amendment to the act after November’s decision obliging banks to account for their earnings on holdings treasuries in separate accounts. The move means a double-digit increase in the effective tax rates that banks would pay as their taxable incomes widened. 

$2 billion decline

NET international foreign reserves declined in December to $42.5 billion, compared to $44.5 billion a month earlier, marking its first drop since the currency float in November 2016. 

The drop came on the back of end-of-the-year interest payments to foreign holders of Egyptian treasuries in addition to foreign debt service.

It is expected that the figure would increase again in January with the disbursal of the fifth tranche of the IMF loan. This will be bolstered by the receipts of Egypt’s planned euro bonds issue of $5 billion in the first half of the year. ­­­­­­­

The reserves had been following an upward trend since the government floated the currency in two years ago. It stopped withdrawing from its reserves to support the pound against the dollar.

Another corruption case

THE GENERAL prosecution on Friday ordered the detention of the head of the old Cairo district Mohamed Zein Al-Abedine for four days pending investigations into bribery charges. Zein Al-Abedine was caught red-handed while taking a bribe of LE1 million from a demolition contractor in return for disbursing funds owed to him by the local authorities, the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) stated on Thursday. Prosecutors accused him of requesting and accepting a bribe while violating a work-related task. The case is the latest in a string of corruption cases brought by the ACA against top state officials in recent months. In November, a former governor of Menoufiya was handed a 10-year jail term for accepting a bribe of over LE27 million.           

Visit Egypt

EGYPT was named among the best 19 places to visit in 2019 by CNN, coming second on the list after Fukuoka in Japan. “Mummies, tombs and fresh Pyramid mysteries have all been unearthed over the past year, as Egypt proves time and again it has many more secrets yet to be revealed,” the CNN article states.

“While safety concerns persist, hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx and the Valley of the Kings take place without incident each year. Likewise, Egypt’s main Red Sea resorts are considered safe.”

Other countries and sites included in the list were New Zealand, the Grand Canyon in the US, Israel and Kerala in India.

Tourism in Egypt faced a huge setback in 2011 due to political instability. However, it recovered in 2017, with official statistics revealing 8.2 million visitors, up from 5.3 million the year before.

The UN World Tourism Organisation reported in 2017 that Egypt is the second fastest growing destination in the world.

Fishermen still detained

THE MINISTRY of Foreign Affairs stated early this week that it is following up on the status of the Egyptian fishermen detained in Iran last week on accusations of entering Iranian territorial waters. Two Egyptian fishermen on board an Emirati fishing boat were accused of entering Iran’s territorial waters near the island of Abu Moussa last week. Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular and Egyptian Affairs Abroad Yasser Mahmoud Hashem said that the ministry is closely monitoring the developments to ensure the safety of the fishermen with the aim of securing their release as soon as possible. Hashem added that the ministry is also monitoring five Egyptian fishermen detained late last year on charges of illegal entry into Iranian territorial waters aboard a Saudi boat.

Boosting relations 

A NUMBER of bilateral and regional issues were discussed in meetings between Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri and his Moroccan and Tunisian counterparts this week.

In his meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on Tuesday, Shoukri tackled ways to boost bilateral cooperation, especially in the economy, and discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest.

With Tunisian Foreign Minister Khamis Al-Jehenaoui, Shoukri addressed enhancing bilateral relations and the developments of regional issues.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said the meetings aimed at maintaining channels of communication and consultation between the two countries as well as discussing developments of regional issues, including the Libyan crisis, the situation in Syria, and the Palestinian question, as well as coordination of counter-terrorism efforts.
Al-Jehenaoui extended an invitation to President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi to attend the next Arab League meeting to be held in Tunisia in March.

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