The government plans to revise its recent decree concerning the increase of diesel prices, according to the minister of industry and foreign trade. Hatem Saleh made the announcement during a meeting with the members and board of directors of the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) and various trade and industrial sectors.
Saleh said the new tax decree hasn’t been cancelled and the meeting represented an attempt to reach a consensus that took into account the public interest.
“The government is facing huge economic challenges and it should make some hard and important decisions to shore up the general budget deficit which is expected to reach EGP 200 billion soon,” said Saleh.
Furthermore, the ministry intends to amend several items that relate to the customs tariff in accordance with guidelines assessed by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade treatment (GATT).
The amendments will include suggestions to increase the duty on certain products “to achieve the interest of Egyptian industry on the condition they don’t contradict the rules of the World Trade Organization.”
“The cabinet agreed on a law to encourage the informal economy to come under the umbrella of the government,” said Saleh. “The law aims to bring in 3,000 businesses in the initial phase.”
He said this would be achieved by providing government support to resolve issues related to licenses and registration and to prosecute tax evaders.
Saleh also announced that the government had made decisions to handle problems related to energy, including allowing the private sector to import natural gas.
So far 18 companies had expressed interest. During the coming weeks the first companies are expected to receive licenses to start importing.
He added that the problem of the financial guarantees had been handled by the Central Bank, which would fund between $2-3bn to build gas utilities starting next year.
Representatives from the ministries of finance and industry in addition to a council from the FEI and chambers of industry will hold a symposium next week to discuss various proposals submitted by the chambers, said Saleh.
The deputy President of FEI, Mohamed El-Sewedy, told Daily News Egypt: “We are not against the new rise in taxes, but they should be applied in a way that doesn’t add any burdens on the consumer.”
El-Sewedy added that the FEI had always cooperated with the government and that it supported increasing state resources. However, there were many proposals to increase these resources in a way that suited the consumer.
“These proposals will be discussed by the committee that’s expected to meet together by the end of next week,” said El-Sewedy.