Egypt parliament adopts investment law
CAIRO - Egypt's parliament on Sunday adopted a law whose aim is to attract foreign investors to the country as authorities seek to redress its struggling economy.
Political instability and jihadist attacks in Egypt have put off tourists and foreign investors since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
The law, which still has to be approved by the president, seeks to boost foreign direct investment, which totalled $6.8 billion in the year to June 2016 compared with $13.2 billion before the uprising.
Lawmaker Medhat al-Sherif, a member of the parliamentary commission on economic affairs, said the new legislation provides for tax exemptions of up to 50 percent for investors in the country's poorest regions and other incentives in sectors such as electricity and renewable energy.
It provides for "a service centre for investors", which will be "a one-stop-shop to allow them to deal with one body," Sherif said.
Under the new law, authorities will have a 60-day deadline to provide investors with all requested authorisations, the lawmaker said.
Investment Minister Sahar Nasr said the new service centre aimed to "eliminate bureaucracy", including through services online.
In November, the International Monetary Fund approved a $12-billion loan to Egypt, conditional on its adoption of ambitious economic reforms including reducing state subsidies on energy.
Egypt received a first tranche of the loan worth $2.75 billion that month, and Finance Minister Amro al-Garhi has said a second tranche of $1.2 billion could be delivered next month.