Annual Doing Business report disappoints Egypt; LNG prices to increase and millions to stop Nile dumping
CAIRO: Egypt ranks among bottom 10 countries in ease of doing business
According to the annual Business Report 2007: How to Reform released Wednesday, Egypt ranks 165 out of 175 countries when it comes to the ease of doing business. The ranking places Egypt last among MENA countries, led by 26th place Israel and 38th place Saudi Arabia.
The report, a publication of the World Bank, bases the rankings by rating 10 areas of doing business in each economy under study, including starting a business, obtaining licenses, employing workers and obtaining credit.
In the report s reform rankings, Morocco came in first in the MENA region, having implemented three reforms in the past year including cutting the cost of starting a business, complying with tax regulations and transferring property. Egypt, which ranked among the top 10 reformers globally in the 2006 report, came in with two reforms including easing company start-up regulations and tax administration and passing the New Tax Law.
Simeon Djankov, an author of the report, says future reforms in the region should aim to benefit all businesses, local and foreign regardless of size, in order not to undermine the legitimacy of the governments.
Reforms should ease the burden on all businesses: small and large, domestic and foreign, rural and urban, Djankov said in a statement. This way there is no need to guess where the next boom in jobs will come from. Any business will have the opportunity to thrive.
BG asks government to raise LNG prices
According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, British Gas (BG), which controls more than 40 percent of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market in Egypt, has requested from the government to be allowed to raise LNG prices to keep up with increases across the board in the oil market.
In an American Chamber of Commerce meeting held last week with Minister of Petroleum and business leaders, BG Chief Executive Frank Chapman said he understands the government s insistence on keeping LNG prices low, relative to surrounding countries to boost the industrial sector. But as more natural gas is being discovered in surrounding countries and with the continuing rise of oil prices past the $70 per barrel level, he says foreign investment might be diverted from Egypt because of its cap on prices.
Chapman said the Egyptian consumer now pays the lowest rates in the world for LNG despite the recent increase in prices for commercial use, which he added was a step in the right direction.
More than 70 vehicles in Egypt now run on LNG. Despite complaining about government regulation of prices, Chapman said BG is looking to expand its operations in Egypt even more after the company s total investment in the country s natural gas sector reached more than $5.5 billion this year.
For his part, Fahmy announced Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif has requested of Ministry of Petroleum (MOP) officials to restudy current consumer LNG prices to allow them to keep up with the increase in global oil and gas prices.
Fahmy said the expected rise in LNG prices will be agreed upon by MOI and the companies involved, and will not affect gas reaching residential units.
On another front, the newspaper reported BG and the Egyptian government are currently studying allowing Gaza natural gas to be liquefied in Egypt s IDCO plant. Israel, meanwhile, has entered the negotiations seeking to purchase the produced LNG, according to Chapman.
LE 350 to stop commercial dumping in the Nile
According to Al Alam Al Youm, Minister of Environmental Affairs Maged George has announced a LE 350 million plan to stop commercial waste dumping in the Nile. Chief among the ministry s plans is modernizing water treatment methods, says George.
George did not specify further the details of his ministry s plans but says he will work to better implement the environment law of 1994, which requires all newly established businesses to provide the ministry with detailed studies of all the possible effects the new establishments could have on the surrounding environment.