Egypt Daily Update: Seeking Foreign Capital, Parliament Passes Investment Law

May 8, 2017

Seeking Foreign Capital, Parliament Passes Investment Law

Brotherhood Supreme Guide Sentenced to Life in Prison

Copt Killed by Militants in al-Arish

Cartoon of the Day: High Prices

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Seeking Foreign Capital, Parliament Passes Investment Law

On Sunday, the Egyptian Parliament passed the long-awaited investment law in order to ease doing business in Egypt and incentivize foreign investment. These incentives include “a 50 percent tax discount on investments made in underdeveloped areas and government support for the cost of connecting utilities to new projects,” Reuters reported. Investors will also be eligible for rebates on land acquisition costs if factories built on the acquired land begin production within two years. Additionally, the bill includes a provision to restore private sector-administered zones exempt from taxes and customs, known as free zones.

The provision for private sector free zones was kept in the bill despite objections from the Finance Ministry, which argued that they are ineffective in increasing exports and decrease state revenue. Finance Minister Amr El Garhy also asserted that an earlier draft of the bill included too many investment incentives and rebates; some were curbed in the final draft. Egyptian media reported [Ar] that many ministers were displeased with Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, who signed off on many of the bill’s amendments without first consulting other ministries that would be affected by the bill.

Egyptian economists have largely spoken in favor of the new law. Economist Reham El-Desouki at Arqaam Capital told Reuters that “a large number of investors were waiting impatiently for the law in order to understand the investment environment in Egypt and its incentives, especially with regards to the cost of starting a project and incentives for land.” Similarly, economist at EFG Hermes Mohamed Abu Basha stated, “In light of current conditions, the investment incentives are needed. The incentives will give a push to investors to come to Egypt.”

Brotherhood Supreme Guide Sentenced to Life in Prison

The Giza Criminal Court sentenced three defendants, including Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, to life in prison in the “Rabaa operations room” retrial. Two other defendants were sentenced to five years in prison while 21 others were acquitted in the same case. Badie was previously sentenced to death along with 13 others in April 2015 for establishing an “operations room” at the protest camp in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square in support of former president Mohamed Morsi. Badie has now successfully appealed all previous death sentences, according to his lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud.In other news, after a criminal court ordered the release of prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader Hassan Malek last week, a court cancelled the release order on Saturday after the prosecution appealed the decision. His detention was instead renewed for 45 days. Malek is being detained pending investigation for harming Egypt’s economy and financing the Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government designated as a terrorist organization in 2013.

Copt Killed by Militants in al-Arish

Coptic Egyptian Nabil Saber Ayoub, who fled from North Sinai’s al-Arish with his family in February amid violence and threats from Islamic State-affiliated militants toward Christians, was shot and killed by militants in his barber shop in al-Arish after returning to the city days earlier. An anonymous al-Arish resident told Egypt Independent that “Ayoub returned because he did not find any job opportunities in Port Said or Ismailia; he decided to return to work in his barbershop in order to provide for his family who are now in Ismailia.” Ayoub’s family was one of nearly 400 who fled North Sinai to Ismailia earlier this year for fear of militant violence, the resident said. This attack occurred days after an Islamic State leader in Egypt warned Muslims to “stay away from Christian gatherings,” a frequent target of Islamic State militants.

Cartoon of the Day: High Prices

“Everything’s gone crazy at the market… and they expect me to be sane!”

Mohamed Abdel Latif

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