Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1178, (2 - 8 January 2014)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1178, (2 - 8 January 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Briefs

Al-Ahram Weekly

Suez Canal revenues up
EGYPT’s revenues from the Suez Canal increased by 8.5 per cent year on year to reach $442.4 million in November 2013 , according to the Suez Canal Authority.
However, revenues dropped by five per cent in November 2013 compared to October of the same year and stood at $466 million due to a decline in the number of vessels passing through the Canal from 1,503 in October to 1,428 in November.
During the period from July to November 2013, the total revenues of the Suez Canal reached $2.2 billion compared to $2.1 billion during the same period in 2012.
The Suez Canal, an artificial waterway connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, is one of the country’s main sources of foreign currency along with tourism, oil and gas exports, and remittances from Egyptian expatriates.
Egypt’s foreign reserves stood at $17.8 billion at the end of November after receiving a boost from the Arab Gulf countries.


Reasonable prices
THE MINISTER of supply and internal trade, Ahmed Abu Shadi, attended the opening of the trade fair for food commodities which sells essential food stuffs including meat, vegetables, and fruit at discounts ranging from between 15 to 25 per cent compared to market prices.
Abu Shadi said that the government was keen to introduce high-quality products at reasonable prices that would be affordable to the majority of citizens. The fair, organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Investment and the Holding Company for Food Industries, was held at the General Committee for Aid headquarters in Nasr City.
To control prices in Egypt’s various governorates, Abu Shadi said that the ministry intended to expand the number of vans selling food products at affordable prices.  
In these vans, meat is sold at LE45 per kilo while Turkey is on sale at LE25 per kilo. Sugar is sold at LE4.5 per kilo, tomatoes at LE1 and potatoes at LE3 per kilo.


Workers strike ended
WORKERS at the state-owned Iron and Steel Company ended a strike that had gone on for more than a month after receiving a bonus that met their demands.
In November, hundreds of workers had decided to go on strike to press demands that included an annual bonus and the raw material needed to reactivate work at the company. They also called for renovating the company’s old machinery in order to improve its products.
In response to their demands and after weeks of negotiations, the company’s board of directors approved LE100 million to provide a 13 month bonus for the workers on 24 December.
Khaled Al-Fiki, head of the General Syndicate of Workers in the Engineering and Metallurgical Industries, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the workers had demanded a 16 month bonus as they had received in previous years, but they had accepted a 13-month bonus because of the poor conditions the company was facing.
To develop the Iron and Steel Company, established during the presidency of former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, a Kuwaiti company recently introduced a proposal to renovate the company’s old machinery. The proposal is currently being considered by the ministry of investment.

Cotton exports decline
EGYPT’s cotton exports declined to 91.6 thousand qantars during the period from June to August 2013, compared to 149.5 thousand qantars during the same period last year. The Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) attributed the reduction to a decline in the land area cultivated with cotton from 520,000 feddans in 2010/2011 to 333,000 feddans in 2011/2012, a decrease of 35.9 per cent.
Mohamed Abdel-Meguid, former chairman of Cotton Research Institute, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the figures were not accurate, however, and that estimates of cotton production and exports should be calculated at the end of each year. “The period mentioned in the study from June to August is the last three months of the cotton agricultural season when there is no cotton in the markets,” Abdel-Meguid explained.
Abdel-Meguid admitted that there had been a decline in the land area given over to cotton because the government set low delivery prices before the cotton cultivation season.
Also during the past few years, farmers have been unable to sell their cotton harvest at good prices as there were no appropriate marketing policies.
According to Abdel-Meguid, the land given over to cotton production was 292,000 feddans in 2013, with total production of 2.7 million qantars, compared to 316,000 feddans in 2012. Some years ago, the total land cultivated with cotton was 575,000 feddans.
Egypt’s total cultivated lands reached 8.8 million feddans in 2011/2012, compared to 8.6 million feddans in 2010/2011, an increase of 2.1 per cent, according to CAPMAS.


Supporting the petroleum sector
The Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) is set to receive a LE2 billion syndicated loan from 13 banks that signed a 42-month loan facility for EGPC in order to help it secure the provision of petroleum products for the local market.
Mohamed Naguib, chairman and managing director of Société Arabe Internationale de Banque (SAIB), said that the banking sector was keen to support the petroleum sector because it affected all Egyptians. “Shortages in petroleum products cause electricity blackouts and send motorists queuing in front of petrol stations,” Naguib said in a press conference to mark the signing of the loan agreement last week in Cairo.
Naguib added that the loan had seen major interest from banks across Egypt and that it had received subscriptions covering more than 150 per cent of the loan’s value. This was testimony to EGPC’s reputation, he said, and its ability to meet the financial obligations of the loan.
SAIB acted as mandated lead arranger and facility agent for the loan, while also participating as book runner and a participant. The subscribed bank consortium includes the Al-Ahli United Bank, Bank Audi, the Egyptian Arab Land Bank, the Egyptian Gulf Bank, the Faisal Islamic Bank, Blom Egypt, the Arab Bank, the Arab Investment Bank, Piraeus Egypt, the Al-Baraka Islamic Bank, the Industrial Development and Workers Bank, and the National Bank of Greece.
This deal is the second of its kind between EGPC and SAIB after the signing of a LE2.5 billion loan facility in 2010 which is due to end in 2014. EGPC owes foreign oil companies working in Egypt some $6.3 billion, of which $1.5 billion was paid by the government last week. The payment was part of a plan aimed at restoring confidence in the Egyptian economy.
The government said recently that it would repay a further $3 billion in monthly instalments until the end of 2017, hoping that this will encourage needed investment in the energy sector. The government has been delaying payments to firms since the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the slowdown in the economy.

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