Egypt seeks tax on share trades: Finance Ministry

Samih Sawiris, Egyptian billionaire construction tycoon, speaks during an interview with Reuters to discuss his investment plans and outlook for the economy since the flotation of the pound in Cairo, Egypt February 21, 2017. (Reuters /Atef Hussein)
Updated 23 February 2017
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Egypt seeks tax on share trades: Finance Ministry

CAIRO: Egypt’s Finance Ministry is recommending a tax on stock exchange transactions of 0.2 percent on both sellers and buyers, a senior ministry official told Reuters on Thursday.
The official said he expected the stamp duty to come into effect before May and to generate revenue of 1 billion to 1.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($63 million to $94.5 million) in 2017/18.
“We will send the income tax law amendments in early March to parliament, and they will include imposing a stamp tax on bourse transactions of 4 pounds per 1,000, which will be 2 pounds per 1,000 on the seller and 2 pounds per 1,000 on the buyer,” the official said.
“We are targeting implementation of that tax before next May,” he added.
The EGX 30 main index fell by 1.34 percent after the news, but economists said investors would take it well, having expected, and priced in, a higher tax rate.
“The stamp tax of 0.2 pct is definitely below market speculation of 0.4 to 0.5 percent, so this is more of a relief for the market, which had been pricing in a much higher rate, said Allen Sandeep, head of research at Naeem Brokerage in Cairo.
“While this is an acceptable rate for an emerging market like Egypt, deferment of the tax charge would still be the ideal scenario, given the (current) emphasis on attracting foreign capital,” he added.
Egypt imposed a stamp duty on buyers and sellers in May 2013, collecting more than 350 million Egyptian pounds ($18.77 million) in revenue before the levy was replaced in July 2014 by a 10 percent capital gains tax.
Egypt suspended the capital gains tax in May 2015 for two years, under pressure from investors. They said it was discouraging business just as Egypt was struggling to recover from a plunge in confidence after a 2011 uprising and subsequent political upheavals.
The Higher Investment Council last year extended the suspension of capital gains tax for three years, until 2020 as part of efforts to draw investors back.
More than 270 companies are listed on the Egyptian stock exchange and more than 500,000 investors are registered to trade there.


World Bank shareholders approve $13 billion capital increase

Updated 22 April 2018
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World Bank shareholders approve $13 billion capital increase

  • Capital increase follows three years of negotiations
  • Increase of $7.5 billion for main institution and $5.5 billion for IFC

World Bank shareholders approved a “historic” increase in the bank’s lending capacity late on Saturday after the United States backed a reform package that curbs loans and charges more for higher income countries like China.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said neither China nor any middle income countries was happy about the prospect of paying more for loans, but they agreed because of the overall increase in funds available.
The agreement, which also increase shares and voting power to large emerging market countries like China, was “a tremendous vote of confidence” in the institution that came after three years of tough negotiations, Kim said.
“World Bank Group bureaucrats don’t often jump around and high-five and hug each other,” Kim told a small group of reporters following the Spring meeting.
He said the increase was needed because even with the end of the global financial crisis, the bank has been called on to provide funding to address a new series of challenges facing poor countries, like climate change, refugees, pandemics, “all new things for us.”
The increase provides an additional $13 billion in “paid in” capital: $7.5 billion to the main institution and $5.5 billion to the bank’s private financing arm, the International Finance Corporation.
Kim said the increase will allow the bank to ramp up lending to an average of $100 billion a year through 2030, from $60 billion in 2017 and an expected $80 billion in 2018.
Countries will have five years to provide the funds, but can ask for a three-year extension. The last increase occurred in 2010 and added $5 billion to the bank’s capital and $200 million for the IFC.
The United States, the institution’s biggest shareholder, rejected the World Bank request in October and the administration of US President Donald Trump has argued that multilateral lending institutions should graduate countries that have grown enough to finance their own development, like China.
But US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday said Washington supports the increase because of the reforms to lending rules.
“I look at this as a package transaction... we support a capital increase on the World Bank, along with the associated reforms that they’re talking about making,” Mnuchin told reporters.
The increase requires legislative approval, but Mnuchin said he was hopeful Congress would back the plan. Kim also said he has had contact with representatives from both parties and received strong support.
In a statement to the World Bank’s governing committee, Mnuchin applauded the plan to “significantly shift lending to poorer clients.”
While he did not mention China by name, Mnuchin applauded the shift to a “new income-based lending allocation target and the re-introduction of differentiated pricing” for loans — meaning wealthier countries would pay higher interest rates.
“The latter will incentivize better-off, more creditworthy borrowers to seek market financing to meet their needs for development,” he said.
Mnuchin said the new arrangement, including for the IFC, “frees resources for countries that don’t have sustainable access to private capital markets.”P
China’s Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said Beijing supported increasing World Bank resources but had reservations about the agreement for changes in lending policies.
“We are concerned about some of the policy commitments in the capital package, such as those on graduation, maturity premium increase for loans and differentiated loan pricing based on national income per capita,” he said in a statement.
“We hope that the management take different national circumstances into full account in the implementation of the graduation policies... to ensure that these policies will not impede cooperation between the (bank) and upper middle income countries.”
Kim acknowledged that lending to China would decline, but only gradually. That means “whatever borrowing they do has to be as impactful as possible.”
And he noted that because of the capital increase, “we will be able to maintain volumes for middle income countries as a whole.”
Zhu said the capital increase is “a concrete measure to support multilateralism” at a time when “anti-globalization sentiments, unilateralism, protectionism in trade” were creating uncertainties in the global economy.