Egypt clears debts worth $861m owed by government oil, electricity companies

Egypt clears debts worth $861m owed by government oil, electricity companies
The Egyptian Ministry of Public Enterprise Sector said the debts of eight holding companies and 119 subsidiaries across various sectors had been cleared. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 09 December 2020

Egypt clears debts worth $861m owed by government oil, electricity companies

Egypt clears debts worth $861m owed by government oil, electricity companies
  • Egyptian government settled the historical debts using real estate assets

CAIRO: Egypt has settled historical debts valued at EGP13.5 billion ($861 million) for oil and electricity companies managed by the Ministry of Public Enterprise Sector. 

In a statement, the Egyptian Ministry of Public Enterprise Sector said the debts of eight holding companies and 119 subsidiaries across various sectors had been cleared, part of the government’s efforts to reform the economy and improve the efficiency of the ministry’s operations.

The debt settlements were made by transferring some unused and indispensable real estate assets affiliated with the ministry to the companies’ creditors. Some of the companies included were those related to the General Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiary companies, the statement said.

The ministry said the debts had occurred due to the mounting losses and debt interest payment of some of the companies within the enterprise sector, which had built up over several decades. The ministry said it was working on a strategy to dissolve those debts and return the companies back to profit.

Rasha Omar, Assistant Minister of Public Business Sector for Enterprise, said that the ministry had concluded debt settlement contracts of about EGP33 billion ($2.11 billion) between enterprise sector companies and some government agencies, such as the National Investment Bank, Social Insurance, the Ministry of Petroleum and the Ministry of Electricity.


France’s Alstom on track to expand presence in Saudi Arabia

France’s Alstom on track to expand presence in Saudi Arabia
Updated 3 min 59 sec ago

France’s Alstom on track to expand presence in Saudi Arabia

France’s Alstom on track to expand presence in Saudi Arabia
  • The French technology provider has been part of several other key projects in the Kingdom

RIYADH: French transport technology provider Alstom, which is working on the Riyadh Metro project, is keen to expand its portfolio in Saudi Arabia, as part of Vision 2030 ambitions to expand the country’s rail network and connectivity.

Andrew DeLeone, who is president of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia at Alstom, said the company was a dedicated and long-standing partner of Saudi Arabia.

“We have been active for decades and played an integral role in the Kingdom’s energy sector,” he told Arab News. “We installed the first gas turbine in the Kingdom in 1951. We are one of the largest technology players in the Riyadh Metro program, which is one of the largest public transport systems in the world. We are supplying solutions and the Riyadh Metro’s lines 3, 4, 5 and 6 have been built by Alstom and its civil partners, as part of the FAST consortium, and the system is set to provide comprehensive, citywide, mass-transit coverage.”

The Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper reported in January that the Riyadh Metro would be launched in the third quarter of this year. 

When fully operational, it will comprise six lines with a total length of 176 km, and 85 stations. Once launched, Alstom will continue to provide services for the metro. 

“We will be continuing in Riyadh for many years as part of the O&M (operations and maintenance) for these four lines and (as a) major presence in the metro system,” DeLeone added.

Alstom has supplied 69 trains for the Riyadh Metro and an Urbalis signaling system. 

It has also implemented HESOP (harmonic energy saver) technology in the project. HESOP recovers the electrical energy generated by trains during braking which, in addition to reducing operational costs, will cut about 3 million kilos of carbon emissions and decrease power consumption by 6.6 million kilowatts a year.

Alstom also has a number of other projects in its current Saudi portfolio.

FASTFACTS

• Alstom installed the first gas turbine in the Kingdom in 1951.

• It is one of the largest technology players in the Riyadh Metro program.

• Alstom has supplied the key components for the high-speed trains that connect Makkah and Madinah.

“We will also deliver the transit solutions for the King Abdullah Financial District when the project resumes and completes. We have supplied the key components for the high-speed trains that connect Makkah and Madinah. We will also be delivering the people mover system in the Kingdom, which is now operating in Jeddah airport.”

DeLeone said that Saudi Arabia was already making inroads into driverless technology solutions. 

“We already see it in Jeddah airport as our people mover system is driverless. Our monorail system is also driverless. Riyadh Metro system is also a driverless transportation system. Driverless transport is here in the Kingdom and will be an essential part of the Riyadh Metro system.”

With Saudi Arabia committing to developing an additional 10,000 km of rail and metro by 2030, and a key factor in this commitment being its ambition to lead the way in reducing transport emissions, relieving traffic congestion, and improving residents’ health and quality of life, DeLeone was confident Alstom could win even more projects in the Kingdom and wider region.

“Alstom has secured a five-year service contract extension for automated people mover systems at Dubai Airports and to provide comprehensive O&M services. We had a similar contract in Jeddah airport and (an) extended service contract. Despite the pandemic, our technology and services have seen growth. We will supply tram orders for the city of Casablanca.”

Last week, at a webinar organized by the Future Investment Initiative, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) Yasir Al-Rumayyan said that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs made solid business sense in the Kingdom and worldwide. 

Alstom was already making progress on developing sustainable and greener modes of transport.

“Today is a big day for Alstom, with our first order of hydrogen trains in France, which is really a historic step in our leadership around CO2-free sustainable urban mobility. The dual mode electric-hydrogen train will mark a historic step in rail transport’s reduction in CO2 emissions, and in the development of a hydrogen ecosystem,” DeLeone said.

In January, Alstom merged with Canada’s Bombardier Transportation. 

Reuters reported the deal to be worth around €5.5 billion ($6.7 billion) and the combined conglomerate will have €15.7 billion in revenues with an order book of €71.1 billion. It will also employ around 75,000 staff in 70 countries.

The Kingdom and the wider region was a significant area for the new combined entity, with over 1,500 people delivering major projects in Riyadh, Dubai, and Qatar, according to DeLeone.

“A large percentage of our workers are in Saudi Arabia, delivering the programs, and we look forward to growth. It’s a place where we (can) grow our business, so we are going to grow our employee presence, supplier presence and grow the local impact.”


Saudi unemployment rate drops in Q4 2020

Saudi unemployment rate drops in Q4 2020
Updated 33 min 26 sec ago

Saudi unemployment rate drops in Q4 2020

Saudi unemployment rate drops in Q4 2020
  • Unemployment among young people decreased from 34.2 percent in Q3 2020 to 28 percent in Q4

JEDDAH: The unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia decreased to 12.6 percent in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020, down from 14.9 percent the previous quarter, according to the latest data from the General Authority for Statistics (GaStat).

According to a report by Riyadh-based investment management advisory Jadwa Investment, the decrease in joblessness was due to more women and young people joining the Saudi labor force at the end of 2020.

“The recovery in the labor market has proceeded quicker than we anticipated (with Saudi unemployment at 12.6 percent at the end of 2020, versus our forecast of 14 percent). At the same time, however, the swift recovery reinforces our view that Saudi unemployment will decline to 12.1 percent by the end of 2021,” the Jadwa report said.

Unemployment among young people decreased from 34.2 percent in Q3 2020 to 28 percent in Q4. Among men it declined from 7.9 percent to 7.1, while for women it was down from 30.1 percent to 24.4 percent, across the same period. 

According to GaStat’s numbers, 200,000 new private sector expatriate work visas were issued in Q4, compared to 46,000 in Q3. The sharp increase was largely due to a big increase in female expat visas, which increased by 181,000 in Q4 compared to just 4,000 in Q3.

Across the various sectors, public administration and accommodation and food services recorded the largest increase in employment among Saudi nationals and expat workers.

“That said, with the ongoing roll-out of vaccines in the Kingdom, we are expecting a more vigorous economic recovery in the second half of 2021, which, along with ongoing localization efforts (such as the recent
Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development decision to raise the level of Saudization in shopping malls, supermarkets, restaurants and coffee shops), will help create more employment opportunities for citizens,” Jadwa said in its report.


PIF’s Noon launches Ramadan drive to help poor families

PIF’s Noon launches Ramadan drive to help poor families
Updated 37 min 13 sec ago

PIF’s Noon launches Ramadan drive to help poor families

PIF’s Noon launches Ramadan drive to help poor families
  • The project runs until May 12

RIYADH: Noon, an online platform backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar, have teamed up with a charity to let online shoppers donate food to needy families during Ramadan.

Noon Daily, which is Noon.com’s grocery website, will partner with Bunyan Women’s Charitable Association for the initiative. 

The project runs until May 12.

Kaushik Mukherjee, senior vice president of customer experience and seller operations at Noon, said: “We’re proud to work with Bunyan to help our customers and team more easily contribute to people in need. Noon Daily will pack and ship Ramadan donation bundles purchased by customers and our own employees to Bunyan throughout the holy month. Thousands of families and frontline workers across the country will benefit from the food parcels distributed by the charity, and we couldn’t be happier to provide a service that helps bridge the donation process between customers and the community.”

Bunyan Women’s Charitable Association was established in 2011 with the aim of improving the physical and social conditions of poor families by assisting them through significant charity initiatives.

Noon was launched in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in Dec. 2017, and in Egypt in Feb. 2019. 

With an initial investment of $1 billion and working from headquarters in Riyadh, Noon said in 2016 that it aimed to expand online sales in the region from 2 percent of the total retail market ($3 billion) to 15 percent ($70 billion) within a decade.


Chalhoub Group organizes Ramadan initiatives

Chalhoub Group organizes Ramadan initiatives
Updated 41 min 18 sec ago

Chalhoub Group organizes Ramadan initiatives

Chalhoub Group organizes Ramadan initiatives
  • Employees from the group will also be able to participate in the “mychalhoub” Eid initiative for orphans

JEDDAH: Luxury retailer the Chalhoub Group has launched a number of initiatives for Ramadan.

The company launched the Chalhoub Impact program before Ramadan, in which about 200 food packages were distributed to the poor through the office of the mayor in Old Jeddah District.

Employees from the group will also be able to participate in the “mychalhoub” Eid initiative for orphans. 

Level Shoes, the group’s designer footwear and accessories operation, will run a social media campaign to donate Ramadan meals. MUSE, the group’s loyalty program, in collaboration with the Al-Ahyaa Centers Association, will donate 1,000 iftar meals to those in need.

“The holy month of Ramadan is the season for giving and an important opportunity to make a difference to the community,” Bachar Sabbagh, managing director, KSA, at Chalhoub Group, said in a press statement.


Egypt’s non-oil exports rise to $7.4bn in Q1 2021

Egypt’s non-oil exports rise to $7.4bn in Q1 2021
Updated 48 min 22 sec ago

Egypt’s non-oil exports rise to $7.4bn in Q1 2021

Egypt’s non-oil exports rise to $7.4bn in Q1 2021
  • Trade deficit also decreased by 1 percent to $9.5 billion in the same period

CAIRO: Egypt’s non-oil exports rose 7.2 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, reaching $7.4 billion, said Trade and Industry Minister Nevin Jameh.

“This tangible increase came despite the current circumstances related to the coronavirus crisis that the whole world is suffering from, thanks to the efforts made by the government to support the production and export sectors during the crisis,” she added.

Egyptian imports saw a slight increase in the first quarter of 2021 to $16.9 billion, compared to $16.67 billion in the same period last year.

Jameh said these positive indicators contributed to achieving a 1 percent decrease in the trade balance deficit to $9.5 billion, compared to $9.6 billion in the same period last year.

Ismail Jaber, head of the General Organization for Export and Import Control, said the chemical products and fertilizer sectors dominated Egypt’s export list in the first quarter of 2021.

Exports of chemical products and fertilizers amounted to $1.5 billion, building materials $1.3 billion, food industries $965 million, and engineering and electronic goods $739 million.

FASTFACTS

• Chemical products and fertilizer sectors dominated Egypt’s export list in the first quarter of 2021.

• Egypt’s top export destinations were China ($3.1 billion), the US ($1.49 billion), Germany ($970 million), Russia ($855 million) and Italy ($689 million).

• These five countries accounted for 42.1 percent of Egyptian imports.

Jaber said Egypt’s top export destinations were China ($3.1 billion), the US ($1.49 billion), Germany ($970 million), Russia ($855 million) and Italy ($689 million). These five countries, he added, accounted for 42.1 percent of Egyptian imports.

Egypt is expecting economic growth of 5.4 percent in the next fiscal year 2021/2022, up from 3.3 percent expected in 2020/2021.

The country recently approved its budget, which aims to reduce the country’s deficit and focuses on pushing social protection efforts, improving citizens’ standard of living, increasing wage allocations and rewards for workers, and financing grant incentives and transportation allowances for workers transferred to the New Administrative Capital.

The proceeds of budget revenues are likely to reach about EGP1.3 trillion  ($80 billion), according to estimates for the next fiscal year 2020/2021, compared to expected revenues of EGP1.117 trillion during the current fiscal year.

The estimates reflect an annual growth in revenues of 16.4 percent, achieved by expanding the tax base, activating electronic payments, expanding the use of modern methods of risk management, collecting government revenues and working to increase linking the proceeds to economic activity.