The Ministry of Finance owes EGP 13bn to Egyptian contracting companies in dues accrued since the 25 January Revolution, according to the CEO of the Egyptian Federation for Construction and Building Contractors (EFCBC) Hassan Abdel Aziz.
“Since the revolution, we have been calling for our dues from the Ministry of Finance, which at that time amounted to EGP 8bn,” said Abdel Aziz, in an interview between members of the contracting sector and Daily News Egypt. “But now the situation has gotten worse, as our dues have reached roughly EGP 13bn.”
“The Ministry of finance recognises only EGP 8bn of the owed money,” said Abel Aziz.
Abdel Aziz said that the sector’s problems with the ministry are not confined to the money owed. Taxes, social insurance, and other legal issues complete the list of grievances.
“Actually we have many problems, not just one,” he continued. “There have been 41,500 companies registered with EFCPC, but now we have reached only 14,300” Said Abdel Aziz.
More than 21,000 companies in the sector have abandoned their business either through bankruptcy or as a result of legal issues.
He added that the Ministry of Finance is displaying “stubbornness” in not paying its dues.
“We regularly receive appeals from contracting companies, because of their over debts which lead them to bankruptcy or to being put in jail,” said Abdel Aziz.
He continued: “Simply, if the contractor doesn’t receive their dues, they can’t complete their project. If they can’t pay back money owed to banks, say, this means they may have to go to jail.”
Others at the meeting held Tuesday Thaker Abdallah and Shams El-Din Youssef, members of the board of directors of the EFCPC, General Secretary of the EFCPC Mohamed Abo El-Enin, and Media Spokesperson for the EFCPC Ramzy Sulayman.
The attendees all stressed that the contracting sector was incredibly important to the Egyptian economy. If it experiences problems, they said, it may lead contracting companies to dodge paying taxes, as well as issues with banks, a decrease in revenues to the public treasury, problems with building material industries, and, eventually, many contracting companies will go out of business.
Regarding the taxes problem, Abdallah said that the contracting sector is calling for a fixed 5% sales taxes on all businesses.
“Now we are creating a joint committee between EFCPC and the Egyptian Tax Authority (ETA),” said Abdallah.
“Banks consider the tourism and contracting sectors unsafe to guarantee,” said Abdel Aziz.
Abdel Aziz explained how the sector is now looking abroad: “First off, is the Iraqi file and strengthening relations with the sector there; then the Libyan file, especially since there is a political problem facing contractors to join the Libyan market; and, finally, the Saudi Arabian file, whereby the EFCBC is trying very hard to get to a meeting-point in terms of views of both sides, and to promote mutual relations between contracting businesses in both countries.”
Commenting on the Turkish contracting business, Abdel Aziz praised the Turkish government in their support for any Turkish contractor deciding to launch a company in another foreign country.
He added that the EFCBC hasn’t made any agreement with any foreign country to build in Egypt unless they won an international bid.
He said EFCBC tried many times to meet with the Central Bank governor to find a quick solution for the problems with the banks, but the situation “needs political intervention, either from the prime minister or the president himself”.
The attendees warned that protesting will be their last resort if the government continues to ignore their demands.