Egyptian government prepares new economic stimulus package

A man wearing a protective face mask shops at Exception Market in Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 May 2020

Egyptian government prepares new economic stimulus package

  • The government is already providing aid to several of the commercial sectors most affected by the pandemic

CAIRO: The Egypt government has introduced a new economic stimulus package in light of the economic setbacks caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the country’s subsequent lockdown.

The new package, submitted by Minister of Planning and Economic Development Dr. Hala El-Said, allocates more than 50 billion Egyptian pounds ($3 billion) to support the tourism sector. It includes a six-month exemption on real-estate tax for hotels and an eight-percent decrease in interest rates on bank loans for the tourism industry.

The government is already providing aid to several of the commercial sectors most affected by the pandemic, including tourism, real estate, agriculture, and industry. The real-estate sector has been given a three-month exemption from taxes, and the price of natural gas and electricity has been significantly reduced to help boost industry.

The pandemic has already had an impact on the government’s plans for the next fiscal year, which will see a 69-percent increase in investment in the health sector, including the expansion of hospitals and primary care units.

On March 19, the government suspended all flights into and out of Egypt to curb the spread of COVID-19. Initially, the suspension was set to end on March 31, giving the government an opportunity to sterilize hotels and tourist sites. But flights are still suspended — apart from special flights to repatriate Egyptian citizens stranded abroad — and will only be lifted when the prime minister and the minister of civil aviation give the green light.

The country’s vital tourism sector has been hit hard by the suspension of flights, and there have already been significant job losses. The government hopes that more aid will enable companies to stay afloat during the crisis.

The proposal includes assistance for the agricultural sector too, with a two-year exemption on taxes on farmland.


Qatar’s top bank Q2 profit slides over virus

Updated 12 July 2020

Qatar’s top bank Q2 profit slides over virus

  • QNB net profit in the 2nd quarter plunged 25.8%

DOHA: Qatar National Bank, the largest lender in the Middle East, said Sunday its net profits for the second quarter sank over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
QNB net profit in the second quarter plunged 25.8 percent to 2.84 billion riyals ($780 million) compared to $1.05 billion in the same period a year ago, the bank said in a statement.
The first quarter net profit of QNB, which has operations in 31 countries including Turkey, Indonesia and India, dropped only slightly.
Its net income in the first six months of the year also dipped 13.6 percent to $1.76 billion from $2.04 billion a year ago, it said.
The bank said it increased the loan loss provisions by $320 million in the first half to safeguard itself from any adverse shocks from the pandemic, thus affecting its profitability.
Total assets rose 10 percent to $267 billion on June 30, making it the largest lender in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of assets.