The National Council for Payments issued a number of important decisions, with the aim of transforming Egypt from a society that relies on cash to a cashless one.
These decisions, according to a statement issued by the Presidency on Saturday evening, include the preparation of a bill to develop non-cash financial transactions and present it to the council within six months as well as obligating all units of the administrative system of the state and units of the local administration, public service bodies, economic bodies, and other government agencies to not pay any sums over EGP 20,000 to contracted suppliers via cash or checks by 1 July 2018.
The decisions also include the mandate of all government agencies that provide public services to the public or manage public facilities to provide non-cash means of payment to its customers. This is expected to be on phases throughout two years. The decisions also include putting together an integrated vision for government services offered to citizens to automate them and provide services electronically. This vision will be presented to the council within six months.
Moreover, the council also decided to exempt citizens from the expenses of opening an account for mobile payment services for one year from the date of issuance of these decisions and reducing the costs of mobile payment services by 50% for six months.
On Saturday, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi presided over the first meeting of the National Council for Payments, which includes the Prime Minister, the Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), the ministers of defence, planning, interior, communications, justice, and finance, as well as the heads of the General Intelligence, the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority, the deputy CBE governor for monetary stability, and chairperson of the board of directors of the National Bank of Egypt.
During the meeting, CBE governor Tarek Amer reviewed the terms of reference and objectives that the council aims to achieve, including reducing the use of banknotes outside the banking sector, encouraging the use of electronic channels to pay, and working towards achieving financial inclusion in order to integrate the largest number of citizens into the banking system, next to merging the informal sector to the formal sector and the increase in tax receipts.
Amer pointed out that the establishment of the council comes within the framework of working to improve the financial system in Egypt and develop its technological infrastructure, signaling the proposed plans to turn to a society less dependent on the banknotes and work to achieve financial inclusion.
During the meeting, Minister of Communication and Information Technology Yasser Al-Qadi reviewed the smart card system as part of the efforts to establish a sophisticated system of digital services and transactions and to move to the digital economy according to international standards.
He added that the smart card system will contribute to improving the level and efficiency of services provided to citizens, as well as to ensure delivery of subsidies to beneficiaries, eliminate the parallel economy, and prevent manipulation and corruption.
In addition, Minister of Finance Amr El-Garhy reviewed the efforts exerted to achieve the integration of the electronic systems in the ministry, in order to rely on modern methods in accomplishing the financial, accounting, and organisational work, providing accurate databases and creating an attractive environment for investment in Egypt.
He also presented the ministry’s efforts to shift to electronic payment and collection in terms of wages, taxes, customs, and government transactions. He also discussed the ministry’s plan of action to maximise these efforts during 2017.