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Egypt to respect renationalisation, cut poverty 20 pct: Minister

Government will wait for appeals on company renationalisation rulings before upholding them; plans to cut poverty 20 per cent, public debt 15 per cent and unemployment 25 per cent by 2017

Marwa Hussein, Tuesday 9 Oct 2012
Egypt poverty
An Egyptian man talks on his mobile phone near the working-class neighborhood of Helwan in Cairo (Photo: AP)
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Egypt's government will respect legal decisions to renationalise formerly state-owned companies once appeals are heard, the country's Investment Minister said on Tuesday.
 
Osama Saleh also confirmed the ambitious growth targets accounced by the Prime Minister, adding that the government's plan includes slashing poverty by 20 per cent, unemployment by 25 per cent and public debt by 15 per cent by the 2016/17 financial year.
 
Over the last 18 months, a handful of companies that were privatised in the late 1990s and early 2000s were ordered to be returned to the state by Egyptian courts.
 
They include cement maker Assiut Cement owned by conglomerate CEMEX, Shebin El-Kom Textile Company, the Tanta Company for Linen and Derivatives and the Steam Boilers Company.
 
"We appealed the court orders to ensure investors rights. The government will wait for the final decision and will respect it,” Saleh said during Cairo's Euromoney conference, which began on Tuesday.
 
Saleh, who is in charge of Egypt's public sector portfolio, revealed that the investment ministry is mulling plans to inject funds in public companies to save them from further losses.
 
He added that PPP (Public Private Partnership) projects will be introduced to boost the performance of public companies.
 
"Privatisation through the stock market is not an option for the moment," Saleh said.
 
In his Tuesday speech, Saleh echoed PM Hisham Qandil's announcement that the government plans to achieve a growth rate of 7.5 per cent in 2016/17, up from 2.2 per cent in 2011/12.
 
"Such growth rates will enable us to cut unemployment rate from the current 12.6 per cent to 9.5 per cent, poverty from 25.2 to 20 per cent and total debt to GDP from 85 to 72 per cent," Saleh explained.
 
The minister also said the government had "opened the doors for reconciliation" with Egyptian real estate companies, several of which have seen major legal challenges to their land, stressing the importance of private investment to the new government.
 
"I meet at least five or six investors per day," Saleh said.
 
He also gave further details on two 'megaprojects' that formed part of President Mohamed Morsi's election platform.
 
One is for a residential/industrial city east of Port Said, including a tunnel underneath the Suez Canal.
 
The second involves a new residential city in Sohag and three dry ports in Assiut, Sohag and in the Red Sea governorate.
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