Egypt simplifies tax to lure foreign investors

Pedro Gonçalves
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Egypt simplifies tax to lure foreign investors

Egypt is automating and simplifying customs and tax processes in a bid to woo foreign direct investment (FDI) as the Finance minister admits that the country still has "a lot of work to do" to bring in new money.

Finance minister Mohamed Maait also said Egypt intends to issue international bonds worth between $3bn and $7bn during the current fiscal year 2019-2020.

Along with devaluing the currency by half, introducing a value-added tax and slashing fuel subsidies, Egypt has also taken steps to tackle bureaucracy, Reuters reports.  The government is also working on a bill to unify tax procedures, Maait revealed. "By the end of October, we will have the chance to issue the first draft to the business community, to civil society," he said.

I have to be very honest. There is a lot of work we have to do in order to make us more attractive to foreign direct investment"

Changes to income tax would be procedural, and no changes would be made to overall tax policy or tax rates, he added. Automated customs procedures are already in place at Cairo airport.

"The road is still long for Egypt, but we are confident that our continued collective efforts, both in the government and the private sector, will firmly place Egypt as a leading and rising economic power, and ultimately bring prosperity to the Egyptian people," the minister said during a conference in Cairo.

The finance minister denied speculations on the government's tendency to impose new payroll taxes in amendments to the stamp tax law.

Maait also denied imposing new taxes (as part of amendments to the stamp tax law) on electricity consumption bills, whether for homes or factories.

Egypt is coming out of a three-year IMF-backed reform program that helped stabilize the economy after the turmoil that followed a 2011 uprising.

"I have to be very honest. There is a lot of work we have to do in order to make us more attractive to foreign direct investment," Maait told Reuters .

 

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