Egypt's parliament approves a new package of tax and fee hikes amid criticism

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 28 May 2023

Egypt's parliament – the House of Representatives – provisionally approved Sunday legislative amendments to three laws stipulating new tax and fee hikes on a number of imported goods and entertainment activities despite being rejected by six political parties.

Egyptian Parliament
File photo of the Egyptian Parliament (Photo: Khaled Mashaal)


The new amendments will impose an additional one percent stamp tax on life insurance premiums, two percent on physical injury insurance premiums and 11 percent on land, river, maritime and air transport insurance premiums.

The departure fee for Egyptians leaving the country has also been increased by EGP 50 to EGP 100. The departure fee for foreigners who visit the governorates of Red Sea, South Sinai, Luxor, Aswan, and Marsa Matrouh will remain unchanged at EGP 50 in order not to affect tourism.

There will be an additional three percent tax on all goods purchased from duty-free shops whose price exceeds $5, with a minimum tax of $1.5. Members of foreign diplomatic and consular corps are exempted from these fees.

Moreover a new 10 percent tax has been imposed on a number of imported luxury goods including smoked salmon, shrimp, lobster, blue cheese, anchovies, caviar, fresh and dried fruits, chocolate, roasted coffee beans, electric mixers, electric shavers, hair dryers, tea and bread equipment for household uses, headphones, hand and pocket watches, kids toys, scooters and cigarette lighters.

Entertainment taxes

Foreign movies in cinemas, opera and ballet shows as well as circus events will also be subject to a new five percent tax. In addition, there will be another three percent tax on food and beverages at these location.

The amendments also stipulate a new 10 percent tax on public parties in sporting and social clubs. They also include a new five percent tax on music and dance parties at night clubs, hotels, casinos, floating hotels as well as symphonies or Arabic music concerts at the Opera House.

There will be also a new 15 percent tax on foreign circus shows, ice-skating and flying balloon shows as well as a new 10 percent tax on diving, safaris and its equipment. A 20 percent tax has been imposed on fish and animal shows too.

"The new taxes will be imposed on luxury and non-essential goods only and will not impact low-income citizens. The new package is expected to generate EGP 5 billion in revenues, an amount which is necessary to help the narrow the budget deficit and to recover part of the money allocated to social safety programmes and Takaful and Karama pension which will cost EGP 270 billion in the new FY 2023/24 budget. Not to mention that fuel and bread subsidies will also cost EGP 150 billion in the new FY 2023/24 budget," Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait told MPs.

Opposition rejection

Six leftist and liberal political parties including the Wafd, the Social Democratic, the Tagamoa, the Reform and Development, the Justice and the Nour parties rejected these amendments.

"The next tax hikes will have a direct negative impact on limited-income and poor citizens. These tax hikes also send a negative message to the outside world and go in conflict with government policies aimed at boosting investments and promoting tourism," Ayman Abul-Ela, the spokesman of the liberal Reform and Development Party said.

Joining forces, Ihab Mansour, the spokesman of the leftist Egyptian Social Democratic Party, and Atef Meghawry, the spokesperson of the leftist Tagamoa party, said "the tax hikes were proposed around one year ago but were postponed due to hard economic conditions. Nothing has changed we still live in these conditions."

"While the government is targeting the citizens' pockets all the time, they are spending extravagantly on needless projects such as building bridges," Abdel-Moneim Imam, the spokesman of the leftist Justice party.

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