Egypt raises price of cigarettes as part of economic reforms

Egyptians consume about 83 billion cigarettes each year. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
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Egypt raises price of cigarettes as part of economic reforms

  • Egyptians consume about 83 billion cigarettes each year
  • Poor and middle-class Egyptians have suffered the hardest the adverse effects of reforms, which began after President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi took office in 2014

CAIRO: Egypt hiked the prices of cigarettes on Thursday, the latest measure amid reforms designed to overhaul the country’s troubled economy still reeling from a costly 2011 uprising.
The announcement was made by the chairman of Egypt’s top cigarette manufacturer in a televised interview late Wednesday. Mohamed Haroun, Eastern Tobacco Company chairman, said his company will impose an increase of 1.5-3 Egyptian pounds, or about 8-17 cents, per pack of smokes.
The increase would, among other things, help fund a new health services system by over 3 billion Egyptian pounds annually, or $168 million, he said.
Egyptians consume about 83 billion cigarettes each year, according to Haroun. He noted that prices of cigarettes had gone up about five times between 2014 and 2017.
Egypt recently introduced a new wave of price hikes for fuel, drinking water and electricity, as well as for new cellular phone lines and monthly landline phone bills. Prices for issuing passports and car licenses also went up steeply.
Poor and middle-class Egyptians have suffered the hardest the adverse effects of reforms, which began after President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi took office in 2014.
Price hikes and subsidy cuts have been accelerated after the floatation of the national currency in 2016 as part of measures taken to qualify for a three-year $12-billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund to support the government’s reform program.
Other austerity measures, including a value-added tax, were also imposed.
El-Sisi recently said the reforms have put Egypt on “the right track” and urged patience as they take effect. In a July address in parliament, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said the people should start benefiting from the reform program within two years.


UAE property developers’ earnings give Gulf markets a boost

Updated 17 February 2019
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UAE property developers’ earnings give Gulf markets a boost

  • Real estate sector gets confidence boost
  • DAMAC gains despite 87 pct drop in Q4 net profits

DUBAI: Most stock markets in the Middle East closed higher on Sunday, reflecting a rally in global stock markets on Friday, and were also boosted by better-than-expected company results, particularly in real estate.

The Abu Dhabi index gained 0.7 percent and the Dubai index 0.6 percent, as two of the largest property developers in the United Arab Emirates posted positive fourth-quarter financial results last week that beat market expectations.

“The market is starting to rebuild confidence in earnings as a driver for sentiment,” said Arqaam Capital in a research note. “Sentiment on the UAE was very weak in 2018, specifically for real estate, on concerns over oversupply risk, pricing pressure that is leading to extended payment plans, and a rental yield compression that is continuing to fall,” Arqaam said.

“But Q4 numbers provided evidence that a few developers have emerged as winners (Emaar Co’s, Aldar) out of market consolidation.” Emaar Properties, Dubai’s largest listed developer, reported a 27 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit.

The stock rose 2 percent on Sunday. DAMAC Properties closed up 0.8 percent, despite having reported a nearly 60 percent fall in full-year profit and an 87 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profits.

In Abu Dhabi, Aldar Properties gained 3.6 percent. Last week, the developer reported a rise in fourth-quarter earnings and higher dividends for 2018. In other sectors, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank rose 0.5 percent after saying it had no merger and acquisition plans. This was in response to a Bloomberg report last week which said the bank was considering such options.

The Saudi index closed 0.4 percent down, in contrast to the rest of the region’s markets. Arab National Bank reported an increase in full- year net profit to 3.13 billion riyals ($834.62 million) from 3.03 billion riyals one year earlier.

The stock remained unchanged and this failed to give support to the banking sector. Alinma Bank < 1150.SE> and Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp. lost 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

In Egypt, where the main index gained 1.4 percent, Orascom Investment Holding, up 3.2 percent, was among the stocks attracting the highest trading volume. Shares in the company jumped last week after its chairman, Egyptian billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris, said he saw possible investment opportunities in North Korea if a summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump later this month was successful.

SAUDI The index lost 0.4 pct to 8,592 points ARABIA DUBAI The index rose 0.6 pct to 2,550 points ABU DHABI The index rose 0.7 pct to 5,070 points QATAR The index gained 0.7 pct to 10,011 points EGYPT The index rose 1.4 pct to 15,199 points KUWAIT The index gainedd 0.1 pct to 5,427 points OMAN The index was down 0.8 pct at 4,077 points BAHRAIN

The index went up 0.6 pct to 1,381 points ($1 = 3.7502 riyals)