By Mohamed Ayyad and Mohamed Mostafa
Investment Minister Ashraf Salman said the cabinet is currently studying whether to introduce new licences for iron and cement to meet local market needs by 2020.
The minister said the potential licences will come into effect in accordance with studies undertaken on market needs. The new licences may relieve pressure on the balance of payments and foreign reserves, depleted by importing from abroad, and the measure will be linked to the current investment plan.
During a visit to 10th of Ramadan City on Monday, Salman stated that Egypt will suffer from a deficit of 30,000 tonnes of cement by 2020. This is comprised of the difference between current cement production estimated at 50,000 tonnes per year and an expected 80,000 tonnes in consumption by 2020.
He said studies confirm Egypt will be on the verge of an iron deficit crisis by 2020, as consumption will reach 12.5m tonnes, despite current production estimated at only 8m tonnes.
Salman added that the energy shortage crisis will push Egypt toward considering issuing licences for investors in exchange for the investor providing their own energy. He said, however, that the iron licences will be issued in an integrated manner to include all types of iron, ranging from the initial stages to the final ones.
During the presentation, Salman revealed that the final draft had been sent to the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) Board. Consultations may take place within a week before it is sent to the cabinet and presented to the legislative reform committee.
Salman said that activating the ‘one-stop shop’ investment window system will not detract from the powers of any state body in allocating lands. Instead, through the system, GAFI will act as an agent for the investor, presenting him with either an acceptance or rejection following negotiations with state agencies.
Salman added: “Of course we will face strong rejection from state agencies in jumpstarting the ‘one-stop shop’ window.” He noted, however, that he expected the system to be put into force within six months to one year following adoption of the amendments. These estimates were made in coordination with the World Bank, he said.
“Investors suffer quite a bit in the process of extracting all licences by interacting with more than 78 government bodies, which will be concentrated in one body through one window,” Salman said.