Egypt’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait has said that there is a presidential mandate to open up new development horizons for the private sector, by striving to overcome any obstacles.
This mandate also endeavours to advance the private sector’s activities in various sectors, which contribute to maximising production capacities and deepening the local component in the national industry.
Maait’s comments during a meeting with business community figures, including Ali Issa, head of the Egyptian Businessmen Association (EBA), and Hany Berzy, head of the Food Export Council (FEC).
During the meeting, the minister expressed his keenness to enhance effective communication mechanisms with the business community.
He also noted his keenness to approve tax and customs facilities that stimulate Egypt’s investment climate, in order to create more job opportunities.
Maait added that linking export support with participation in the electronic invoice (e-invoice) system is limited to those who are obliged to join in accordance with the established procedures and rules.
The minister said that the obligation to register e-invoices on this platform is also limited to sale invoices only, without purchasing.
He said that, despite the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, he is keen on the stability of tax policies. He pointed out that Egypt is one of the first countries to succeed in implementing the e-invoice system, with 1,642 companies having joined so far.
Maait pointed out that the companies have submitted a total of 18 million electronic documents so far. This contributes to creating a full and more accurate inventory of the tax community, whilst providing many benefits for funders, including VAT refunds within 45 days.
He explained that E-Tax provides technical support to funders who are obliged to join the e-invoice system.
The minister noted that companies that do not have electronic account systems and issue less than 200 invoices per month can issue e-invoices through the portal, which requires only an electronic signature.
He stressed that the Law for the Development of Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises allows for the regularisation of conditions for projects operating in the informal economy without a licence.
This will ensure that there would be no tax accounting for the informal economy projects that have applied for a temporary licence to settle their situation for the years prior to the date of submitting this application.
The minister pointed out that the temporary licence shall replace any other approvals or legal procedures.
For his part, Issa said, “The business community is living a golden age in terms of dealing with the tax and customs authorities, in light of the great progress in modernising and mechanising the tax administration and customs administration systems.”
“This contributes to facilitating procedures, simplifying import and export processes, and achieving tax and customs justice by integrating the informal economy into the formal economy,” he added, “Obstacles are normal and the Ministry of Finance is building bridges of communication with the business community.”
Berzy said, “We see a great response from the Minister of Finance in discussing any obstacles, especially with regard to the tax and customs systems, and this is seen in the approval of many facilities.”
He praised the modernisation and digitisation projects for taxes that contribute to integrating the informal and formal economies, to achieve tax justice, and ensure fair competition in prices in the local markets.
For his part, Egyptian Customs Authority head El-Shahat Ghatoury said that 70% of the business community’s proposals put forward in the community dialogue on the Customs Law’s executive regulations have been taken into account.
He added that the customs law included many advantages, including the instalment of customs on capital goods and machines, and allowing the circulation of electronic documents.
Other benefits cover intensifying smuggling penalties, legalising the pre-clearance system, releasing the risk management system, and the procedures of the ACI system.
Ghatoury said that the supporting exporters and producers unit was created to look into, under his direct supervision, the obstacles that Egyptian exports may face at customs ports and work to solve them.
He explained that completing the procedures through a single window is an essential step for exporters, especially that there is an electronic link with most ministries and agencies to obtain the required approvals to facilitate procedures. He also pointed out that 90% of Egypt’s imports have been covered through the unified electronic platform, and online documentation and certification is being considered.
Samir Aref, Chairperson of the Tenth of Ramadan Investors Association, indicated that this meeting comes as part the efforts of linking the industrial community and investors with all specialised government agencies and bodies.
These efforts have worked towards achieving communication between investors and the Egyptian Customs Authority, whilst looking at obstacles and finding radical solutions to them to contribute to building the national economy. They have also sought to provide protection and opportunities for the national industry.