Combating deficit, Finance Ministry proposes raise on gov’t service prices

Egypt is mulling raising the prices of some 14 government services to generate additional revenue for the state budget, a source from the Finance Ministry told Al-Masry Al-Youm Saturday.

The Finance Ministry has drafted a bill on the proposed increases, estimated to garner as much as an extra LE6.5 billion for the state, the source said, adding that the bill will now be sent to the cabinet for discussion before being referred to House of Representatives.

Among the services that would edge up their prices are services provided by public notary offices and passports administration fees.

In a separate strategy to generate revenue, the Finance Ministry is preparing a tax reform plan including a new bill for taxing small and medium businesses, doubled with the likely approval of a value-added tax (VAT) law, the sources said.

The draft VAT bill was announced by former Finance Minister Hani Damian last year. The proposed law was opened up to the public for social debate, and large sections of Egyptian society were not convinced with the bill, fearing that the new taxation system would bump up taxes by 5-15 percent.

Talks on the VAT law recommenced when a new parliament was sworn in at the end of 2015. The law is currently being discussed by the House of Representatives.

The Finance Ministry source, meanwhile, expected the government to resort to a "severe" crackdown on black market foreign currency during the coming months after it receives the first US$4 billion tranche of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

Deputy Finance Minister Mohamed Moaeet told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the initial agreement between IMF and Egypt is to be referred to the House of Representatives to be ratified, in accordance with the constitution.


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