The government is considering enacting new cement licences for investors who are able to provide the energy needed to support the import of gas and build power plants, all within the framework of actions being taken to stimulate the economy, according to Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman.
“The government will determine the areas in which to build factories while the private sector will determine its capabilities before applying for a licence,” according to Salman, who said that the government is authorising a new economic stimulus plan with priority given to energy.
The government already enacted two economic stimulus packages worth approximately EGP 64bn, in two phases.
On Tuesday, Salman stated to the Egyptian Association for Direct Investment that he sought to persuade the government to abolish the Ministry of Investment and establish a sovereign fund to manage state assets, with a focus on making the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) and General Authority For Investment (GAFI) independent and directly respondent to the president.
“I hope to be the last Minister of Investment in Egypt,” said Salman, who added that each ministry currently acts as a ministry of investment, and that he is working on liberalising EFSA and GAFI before he leaves office.
The first Ministry of Investment was established in 2004, during the administration of former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin then led the ministry before he left to work for the World Bank at the end of 2010. The ministry was then integrated with the ministries of Trade and Industry and managed by the Minister of Industry at the time, Rasheed Mohamed Rasheed.
Osama Saleh headed the Ministry after the 25 January Revolution, assigned to the position by then Prime Minister Hisham Qandil. He was replaced by Yehia Hamed during the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule, only to be reinstated in the interim government following the fall of the Morsi regime. Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour took over the role until the ministries were separated again; Ashraf Salman is the current Minister of Investment.
Salman stated: “As a government, we are fighting to remove all obstacles to foreign direct investment [FDI] and improve the environment for legal, regulatory and administrative measures as a step to mobilise investment and revive the economy that has been battered over the past years.”
FDI fell drastically from about $13.2bn in the 2007/2008fiscal year to less than $5bn in the last fiscal year.
Salman added that upon being appointed minister, he discovered that the majority of national projects being promoted are just “titles without details”, so now he is working on the formulation of projects and investment opportunities in an integrated manner to promote and present them to “serious investors”.