El-Sisi orders action to reopen factories closed during revolution

A committee has been formed to examine the situation of thousands of factories and banks that were affected by the lack of security in 2011. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 February 2020

El-Sisi orders action to reopen factories closed during revolution

  • The new measures could create more than a million job opportunities

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has called for the reopening of factories that were forced to close during and after the 2011 revolution as a result of economic pressures and lack of security.

It comes after the Central Bank of Egypt launched a 100 billion Egyptian pound ($6.5 billion) initiative in December to boost the country’s industrial sector.

The new measures could create more than a million job opportunities according to Magdy Ghazy, the head of the Industrial Development Authority. A strong and successful industrial sector is key to development in any country that aspires to strong economic growth and stability, he added.

Official figures reveal that the contribution by Egypt’s industrial sector to the nation’s GDP has risen from 11 percent in 2011 to 18 percent as a result of economic reforms. It is expected to grow further when shuttered factories resume production.

“For Egypt to achieve a real industrial renaissance, the contribution of the industrial sector should be 25 to 35 percent of GDP,” Ghazy said.

Hamdy Arafa, a professor of local and government administration, said 8,324 private-sector factories have closed since 2011 as a result of financial and administrative pressures, which has cost the economy at least 560 billion Egyptian pounds a year. CBE figures show that many of the businesses accumulated debts, while tens of thousands of workers lost jobs.

Economic expert Ahmed Sayed said now is the perfect time to start reopening the factories, thanks to the economic reforms the government has introduced. These have achieved “great success” in overcoming the financial crisis, he added, and recent initiatives to boost industry are therefore a welcome sign.

During a ministerial meeting chaired by El-Sisi last week, CBE Governor Tarek Amer said a committee has been formed to examine the situation of thousands of factories and banks that were affected by the lack of security in 2011 during the nationwide demonstrations. This led to robberies and attacks which, along with strikes by workers, caused many factories to halt production. As a result, their reputations suffered at home and abroad, and many workers were laid off.

El-Sisi this week called for swift action to help businesses resume operations. Such measures will include reaching agreements with banks, providing the necessary funding through low-interest loan initiatives from the CBE, canceling government action taken against companies, and assistance to alleviate the burden on the banking sector caused by the industrial slump.

“Starting factories up again would bring hundreds of thousands of unemployed people back to work, thus providing more job opportunities,” said Sayed. “Unemployment rates would go down and more products and commodities would be available in the markets.

“Moreover, there would be less dependence on imported commodities, which would lead to a decline in hard-currency imports.”

Hesham Ibrahim, professor of investment at Cairo University, said that if the factories reopen, they would create more than 500,000 jobs, along with additional employment opportunities in related sectors such as logistics and distribution.

Coronavirus: 16 killed in Iran, 95 infected

Workers disinfect Qom’s Masumeh shrine, which is visited by a large number of people, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (AFP)
Updated 45 min 44 sec ago

Coronavirus: 16 killed in Iran, 95 infected

  • Six Saudi women recovering in Bahrain as Kingdom warns against travel to Italy and Japan

DUBAI: Two more people infected with the new coronavirus have died, taking the toll in Iran to 16, a Health Ministry official told state TV on Tuesday.

Iran has the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China, where the virus emerged late last year.
“Among those who had been suspected of the virus, 35 have been confirmed and two died of the coronavirus infection,” said Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour. He said 95 people had been infected across Iran.
The Health Ministry urged Iranians to stay at home.
Iran said on Monday 900 cases were suspected, dismissing claims by a lawmaker from Qom who said 50 people had died in the city, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak.
Iran, which confirmed its first two deaths last week in Qom, has yet to say how many people it has quarantined, but the semi-official Mehr news agency said 320 people had been hospitalized.
Iraj Harirchi, Iran’s deputy health minister, has tested positive for the coronavirus and is now under quarantine.
Six Arab countries have reported their first cases of coronavirus, with those infected all having links to Iran. Kuwait said the number of infected people there had risen to eight.
Bahrain’s Health Ministry said 15 more people, including six Saudi women, had tested positive for the virus after returning from Iran via Dubai and Sharjah. The new cases were carried by Bahraini and Saudi nationals who arrived at Bahrain International Airport from Iran via Dubai or Sharjah.
The Saudi Ministry of Health said that it was coordinating with Bahraini health officials for the treatment of the Saudi women who had visited Iran. They will remain in Bahrain until they are fully recovered. The Kingdom has advised citizens and residents to avoid traveling to Italy and Japan.
Iranian authorities have ordered the nationwide cancellation of concerts and soccer matches and the closure of schools and universities in many provinces.
The head of Qom’s Medical Science University, Mohammad Reza Ghadir, expressed concern over “the spread of those people infected by the virus across the city,” adding the Health Ministry had banned releasing figures linked to the coronavirus.
Many Iranians took to social media to accuse authorities of concealing the facts.
Rouhani called for calm, saying the outbreak was no worse than other epidemics that Iran has weathered.
The sight of Iranians wearing masks and gloves is now common in much of the country.
Sales of masks, disinfectant gels and disposable gloves have soared in Tehran and other cities, with officials vowing to prevent hoarding and shortages by boosting production.
Iran has shut schools, universities and cultural centers until the end of the week in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The UAE has banned all flights to and from Iran. The UAE, home to long-haul carriers Emirates and Etihad, remains a key international transit route for Iran’s 80 million people.
Emirates, the government-owned carrier based in Dubai, flies daily to Tehran. Its low-cost sister airline, FlyDubai, flies to multiple Iranian cities, as does the Sharjah-based low-cost carrier Air Arabia.
The announcement came after Bahrain said it would suspend all flights from Dubai and Sharjah.
Kuwait raised the number of its infected cases to eight, after earlier raising the number to five. It said the three latest cases involved Kuwaiti citizens just back from Iran, without giving more details. The five previously reported cases were passengers returning on a flight from the Iranian city of Mashhad, where Iran’s government has not yet announced a single case of the virus.
Kuwait had halted transport links with Iran over the weekend and said it was evacuating its citizens from Iran.
An Iraqi family of four who returned from a visit to Iran tested positive for the coronavirus, the first Iraqis known to have caught the disease.
The four cases in Kirkuk province brought Iraq’s total to five after it reported its first case on Monday, an Iranian theology student in Najaf. Iraq is deeply concerned about its exposure to the Iranian outbreak, as it has deep cultural and religious ties with its neighbor and typically receives millions of Iranians each year.
The Iraqi government, which has already banned all travel from China and Iran, added Italy, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and Japan to its travel ban list on Tuesday. Returning Iraqi citizens are exempt, as are diplomats.
Populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr suspended a call for his followers to hold a “million-man” protest, saying he had decide to forbid the events “for your health and life, for they are more important to me than anything else.”
“I had called for million-man protests and sit-ins against sectarian power-sharing and today I forbid you from them for your health and life, for they are more important to me than anything else,” he said in a statement. It was not immediately clear how the government’s call on citizens to avoid public gatherings would affect the strength of anti-government protests, and the response of security forces.
A Turkish Airlines plane flying from Iran was diverted to Ankara on Tuesday at the Turkish Health Ministry’s request and an aviation news website said one passenger was suspected of being infected by coronavirus.
Turkey’s Demiroren news agency broadcast video showing ambulances lined up beside the plane, with several personnel wearing white protective suits on the tarmac.
The plane was flying from Tehran and had been scheduled to land in Istanbul. Turkey shut its borders to Iran on Sunday and cut flights due to the spread of the virus in that country.
Oman’s Khasab port has suspended the import and export of goods to and from Iran from Feb. 26.