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Egypt govt to appeal court order re-nationalising Assiut Cement

Government announces plans to appeal Thursday court ruling calling for re-nationalisation of Egypt's Assiut Cement, bought in 1999 by multinational building-materials firm CEMEX

Marwa Hussein, Tuesday 18 Sep 2012
 Minister of trade
Minister of Trade Hatem Saleh (Photo: AL-Ahram)
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The Egyptian government plans to file an appeal against a Thursday court ruling renationalizing Egyptian building-materials company Assiut Cement, Industry and Foreign Trade Minister Hatem Saleh told Ahram Online on Tuesday.

Since its privatisation in 1999, Assiut Cement has been 95.8 per cent owned by multinational building-materials firm CEMEX.

On the sidelines of Tuesday's Egyptian National Competitiveness Conference, Saleh said the government would grant seven new licenses for Egypt-based cement companies once ongoing energy shortfalls were resolved.

The minister added that the government was currently studying several proposed initiatives, including allowing private companies to produce energy to be sold directly to private enterprises.

Saleh revealed that only 50 companies accounted for 60 per cent of Egypt's total industrial energy consumption.

"We're talking about industries that are heavy consumers of energy, especially fertilisers, steel and cement manufacturers," he said. "These enterprises must pay the full price [for energy] so we can support more labour-dependent industries."

The minister went on to stress, however, that prices for energy paid by heavy industrial consumers were very close to international prices. He failed to specify, however, whether these prices would be subject to further revision.

In August, Saleh had stated that the Egyptian government would not be responsible for providing subsidised energy to 14 new cement factories.

Saleh's statements came in line with Egypt's 2012/13 state budget – prepared by the previous government of Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri and approved by Egypt's military council – which stipulates a whopping 27 per cent cut in fuel subsidies to LE70 billion, down from LE95 billion in last year's budget.

As for a decision issued in mid-July to increase water and gas prices – to be applied retroactively since 2008 – for heavy energy consumers, Salah said the decision had been revised and wouldn't be applied retroactively but would rather be calculated from the beginning of the current year.

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