CAIRO: The Central Auditing Agency (CAA) turned down a request by the Ministry of Finance to drop state-run newspapers’ accumulated taxes, MP Saad Al-Husseiny told Daily News Egypt.
Mona Gamal, the ministry’s press officer, however told Daily News Egypt that the ministry didn’t release such news, which was reported in local media. She, nonetheless, didn’t deny or confirm whether the ministry has filed such a request.
On Monday and Tuesday, the People’s Assembly (PA) discussed the CAA report for the financial year 2007/2008, which had mentioned the debt.
Galal Dowidar, secretary general of the Supreme Press Council and former chief editor of Al-Akhbar newspaper, told Daily News Egypt that the Ministry of Finance and the state-run newspapers agreed not to collect pending taxes that have been accumulating over the past 30 years “and whose huge amounts cannot be afforded by any institution.
Newspapers are however obliged to pay their taxes as of 2005, according to the new tax law of that year, Dowidar explained.
“There should be legislation that [exempts] organizations or institutions from paying accumulated taxes as per the new law, simply because no organization can afford such huge amounts, he said.
The Ministry of Finance reportedly requested the taxes be dropped due to the newspapers’ difficult financial conditions, according to a local press report.
Al-Husseiny supported the CAA’s decision to collect the taxes.
He suggested that state-run newspapers’ hiring process is a form of nepotism. “For example Samir Ragab, former editor of Al-Gomhuria daily, was paid LE 3 million per month as a fixed salary, he said.
“Chief editors who are making millions of pounds are asking to be exempt from taxes, while we [MPs] are struggling to find jobs for citizens with an average salary that does not exceed LE 167, Al-Husseiny said.
Al-Husseiny, however, said that the request to drop the taxes does not surprise him, accusing the government of protecting its institutions, “even if they are corrupt.
He explained that it seems as if the finance ministry’s responsibility is to defend other governmental institutions “whether they are right or wrong.
“Employees who receive LE 3 million a month should at least pay their taxes, he said.