Egypt Independent: Economy-Main news en International bidders compete for manufacture of 700 train cars <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div><span style="font-size: 14px;">Transport Minister Hany Dahy said Friday that international companies are vying to win a deal with the Egyptian side for the manufacture of 700 high-quality train cars.</span></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The minister told <em>Al-Masry Al-Youm</em> that a Hungarian offer enjoys several advantages, including the fact that manufacture will be implemented in Egypt. Dahy added that Hungary was one of the pioneering countries that has stood by Egypt in developing its railway sector in the 1970s.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The minister vowed that passengers will witness an enhanced service starting September, with 18 new, air-conditioned cars coming into operation, divided onto two trains. Those, he said, are part of 212 cars being currently manufactured by the Arab Organization for Industrialization.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Poor train conditions and maintenance were partially to blame for several train accidents in Egypt over the past years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:29:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2437707 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/08/14/481046/shutterstock_114380764.jpg Offshore platform to produce 150 million cubic feet of gas per day by 2016 <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span style="line-height: normal;">The Petroleum Ministry said on Tuesday that the Italian company Edison began a new project in Egypt to produce natural gas from an offshore platform in the Mediterranean in coordination with its joint venture Abu Qir Petroleum (AQP) at an investment of US$220 million.</span></p><div>&ldquo;The project produces 150 million cubic feet of gas per day and 2,500 barrels of condensate,&rdquo; said AQP President Adel Hegazy, explaining that the project includes nine wells of which three have already been drilled and tested. &ldquo;Production is projected for 2016.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He added that AQP already produces 242 million cubic feet of gas per day, 4,200 barrels of condensate and 276 tons of butane gas.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Edison trusts the Egyptian market potential,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Petroleum Authority has been buying gas from Edison since June 2012 for US$5.88 per million BTUs, a price linked to the price of the Brent crude.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Edison has explorations in Abu Qir and the Rayan Valley in the Western Desert.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:48:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2437661 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/07/23/484151/_hos5461.jpg Official: Suez Canal revenues up by US$136 million <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p style="font-size: 14.399999618530273px;">An official source at the Suez Canal Authority said Monday that the revenues of the Suez Canal during the first six months of this year saw an increase of US$136 million, compared to the same period last year.&nbsp;</p><p style="font-size: 14.399999618530273px;">&quot;Total revenues were $2.572 billion during the first half of this year, compared to $2.436 billion during the same period last year,&quot; according to the source.</p><p style="font-size: 14.399999618530273px;">The Suez Canal is one of the main sources of Egypt&#39;s national income and a vital route for international trade.</p><p style="font-size: 14.399999618530273px;"><i>Edited translation from&nbsp;Al-Masry Al-Youm</i></p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:20:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2437655 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/03/09/115366/860294_282595308538125_1870269516_o.jpg Reforming Egypt's black market - high hurdles, big rewards <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The economist behind a plan to unlock at least $380 billion (222 billion pounds) worth of assets from Egypt&#39;s black market says President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi must first restore another asset that has depreciated over the years: the trust of a wary public.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That is a tall order in a country where the government has chronically neglected basic duties, in many cases leaving citizens to fend for themselves and find ways around laws and bureaucracy that hinder more than help.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, who has been consulted by dozens of world leaders on private property reform over the last 25 years and has met with Sisi three times since May, is confident the president will use a narrow window of opportunity to address Egyptians&#39; pervasive suspicion of government.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Egyptians don&#39;t trust their own administration,&quot; de Soto told Reuters. &quot;They&#39;re not going to hand in names or data, so you&#39;ve got to start by establishing credibility.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He has given Sisi a plan outlining specific changes to the bureaucracy and legal code needed to integrate an estimated 60 percent of the population into the system by registering and documenting ordinary Egyptians&#39; assets.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He predicts such reforms could more than double economic growth rates within five years by giving people access to credit and the protections of legal status. Forecasts for Egypt&#39;s growth this year range between 2 and 2.5 percent.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>De Soto&#39;s initiative is part of efforts to restore public finances, attract foreign investment and revive an economy battered by three years of political turmoil and unrest, and is expected to be implemented alongside others including from U.S. consultancy Strategy&amp; and investment bank Lazard.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sisi is also standing by other ambitious initiatives, such as one to build 48 new cities in the desert.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>De Soto said in an interview that Sisi had begun appointing officials to form an agency which would run a communications campaign aimed at building consensus for the reforms and ensuring their implementation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The presidency did not respond to Reuters&#39; requests for comment. But a statement from Sisi&#39;s campaign released two weeks before elections in May said the candidate had met with de Soto to discuss &quot;a vision for the future of the informal economic sector in Egypt&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sisi, who ousted elected President Mohamed Morsy last year following protests against his rule and won 93 percent of votes cast in May, has already expended some political capital on tax hikes and subsidy cuts.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Previous governments have talked about reforming the economy without much effect. De Soto met with officials from President Hosni Mubarak&#39;s government a decade ago and all the candidates in the 2012 presidential elections, including Morsy of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Obtaining buy-in from a public that may not like the status quo but has repeatedly felt cheated by empty government promises is the first step of de Soto&#39;s plan - and likely its biggest obstacle for Sisi. De Soto predicts it will take about a year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I think [Sisi] has realized what his historic moment is and he really wants to turn the country around,&quot; de Soto told Reuters by telephone from Lima.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It&#39;s got to be relatively quickly because you&#39;ve got to take advantage of expectations being high now.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>BREAK THE INERTIA</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The symptoms of informality, which de Soto calls &quot;a disease of government&quot;, are unavoidable in Egypt.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Unlicensed vendors flood the streets, hawking everything from clothes and electronics to vegetables and seafood. The microbuses that many Egyptians rely on for transport skirt meaningful regulation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Whole districts spring up inside major cities and operate beyond government control, a phenomenon that has become regarded as normal.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Meanwhile, Egypt&#39;s massive public sector puts up red tape in the way of millions of Egyptians who resort to living and working beyond the law.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Loss of faith in central government was a main cause of the 2011 uprising that ended Mubarak&#39;s 30 years in power. Mistrust only increased in the following years, as police abandoned their posts, and officials avoided making decisions they feared could land them in jail.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The key to his plan, said de Soto, is for Sisi to &quot;create enough enthusiasm for the idea of being able to work within a system where everybody obeys the law... That allows you to break the inertia.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Since he announced he would run for office, Sisi has adopted a rhetoric which appeals to Egyptians to help him save the country from collapse through hard work and sacrifice.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The president would be saying and identifying for them what the obstacles are, how government intends to go about [removing them], and he will ask for help,&quot; said de Soto.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>If Sisi succeeds, the economist says he has prescriptions available based on five years&#39; of research on Egypt&#39;s informal sector conducted before the 2011 uprising, which a team from his Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD) think tank has recently updated.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It&#39;s very precise: point by point, office by office, norm by norm,&quot; he said, declining to reveal details. Legal revisions and changes to bureaucratic protocol are clearly part, but not all, of the programme.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The ILD&#39;s website lists among its achievements implementing or inspiring property titling initiatives from Thailand to Russia which it says have increased access to credit and reduced poverty.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This is where most of the country&#39;s resources that can give you ... the high growth rates are,&quot; said de Soto. &quot;It&#39;s the informal economy.&quot;</div> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:00:00 +0000 Reuters 2437639 at sites/default/files/photo/2011/12/15/25658/street_vendor_selling_clothes_in_cairo.jpg