Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities tackles budget crisis

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 28 Dec 2011

By exempting small business owners at touristic sites from back rent and setting aside additional funds for medical care of ministry staff, the MSA's administration council is dealing with financial and industry realities

The Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) has decided to exempt bazaar, cafeteria and gift shop owners in museums and archaeological sites from paying rent for June and August. As part of the ministry’s move, any legal action that has been initiated against the owners of affected businesses will be stopped.

The step was approved by the MSA’s Administration Council when it met Wednesday and comes as an attempt to reduce the burden on businesses affected by the slump in the tourism industry.

The council also decided to impose a new entrance fee for some monuments located in Islamic Cairo’s Al-Muez Street. Income accrued from the new charge will be put towards the restoration and maintenance of Islamic monuments. These monuments include Al-Fotouk Gate, Cairo’s northern wall, Al-Nasser Mohamed Quranic School, and both complexes of Barqouq and Qalawun as well as Inal Bath, Al-Kameliya School, Khesru’s Sabil (water fountain), the Salehiya Dome and Bashtak Palace.

The fee for entrance into the street is LE100 for tourists and LE1 per monument for Egyptians.

During the meeting the council also approved Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim’s suggestion that LE2.5 million from the grant offered by the organisers of Tutankhamun’s exhibition in Japan be allocated to provide medical care to the ministry’s staff. The money had been initially intended for archaeological excavations in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

“This suggestion is my attempt to tackle the current lack of budget,” said Ibrahim.

The council also agreed to allocate for one year the second floor of Prince Taz Palace to display pictures drawn by the artist Ingy Aflaton.

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