The House of Representatives’ Tourism Committee has concluded its first legislative term, which began in January, after holding the first session in the council. Those working in the tourism sector have disagreed over the achievements of the committee and the lack of accomplishments.
Member of parliament Amr Sedky, deputy head of the committee, said that the committee addressed a number of issues during its first legislative term, even though it did not have enough time.
He added that the committee reviewed the Accountability State Authority’s (ASA) financial reports about the ministries of tourism and civil aviation for fiscal year (FY) 2015/2016. It also submitted a briefing request for the Minister of Tourism on the “Egypt in Our Hearts” initiative.
Sedky pointed out that the committee helped solve the “pilgrimage crisis” this year, as well as addressing investors’ issues in the Red Sea area, as this region suffers from many problems.
He noted that the committee managed to exclude the tourism sector from the value-added taxation (VAT) for two years, due to its current circumstances. Sedky added that “recommendation 12” was submitted in the final report demanding that parliamentary speaker Ali Abdul Aal exclude the sector from that tax for two years.
He added that the committee will work in the next phase to amend the VAT law because the verbal agreement to exclude the sector is not sufficient.
Karim Mohsen, vice president of the Egyptian Federation of Tourism, said that he cannot assess the committee’s performance, because they have not finished their main task yet.
He added that the committee should postpone the application of VAT on the tourism sector for at least a year so that companies can eventually abide by the law, noting that the sector cannot pay the VAT at 13%, as it stands now.
Mohsen pointed out that the federation will hold a meeting with the Minister of Finance in the coming days to discuss postponing the application of VAT on the tourism sector until it recovers. If not, all tourism companies would face the threat of closure, he asserted.
Egypt would not be a competitive tourist destination if the tourism sector raised its prices by 13%.
Mohsen warned against the immediate application of VAT, because companies would either close or manipulate their invoices, which would reduce the government’s tax revenue.
Kamel Abu Ali, head of the Red Sea Tourism Investment Association, said that the parliamentary Tourism Committee could not provide any services to the sector, as the state of tourism is worsening every day.