Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman said he filed a proposal to the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) to adopt engineering offices to handle the infrastructure preparations for lands before proposing them for investment through the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI).
The step comes in line with the example of the offices for accounting and consulting, which are accredited by the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA).
Salman told Daily News Egypt that NUCA is considering the proposal and called on engineering offices to present their offers for approval. This would ensure the readiness of the land in all respects and the completion of the required licences before proposing them for investment through GAFI, which speeds up their allocation.
Activating the single window system will take 14 months, and is set to start within two months, during which the IT infrastructure at GAFI will be completed, instead of the 18 months announced previously.
He anticipated that GAFI would create about 21 branches to act as a single window in various governorates, in addition to the existing six branches. Part of those branches will be created within the authorities responsible for land in governorates, especially NUCA and Industrial Development Authority (IDA), to speed up those procedures.
Some parties have demanded that authorities be responsible for the lands, such as NUCA and IDA, to be independent from the single window system. They accused GAFI of hindering the process of offering the lands for investment. Salman responded that all parties agreed that returns of the allocation process would be transferred to each entity into its account, and the proposal of the lands will take place without waiting for the single window.
Regarding the recent Saudi Arabian investment pledges, estimated at $8bn, Salman said activating the flow of these funds depends on the readiness of Egyptian projects. It will also depend on the results of the due diligence studies by the Saudi sovereign funds on these projects to assess the assets and liabilities and determine the economic feasibility.
The cabinet approved the extension of projects that obtained initial approvals, as well as projects already operating with the special free zones system, in accordance with the timeline of the project. Salman said this is a victory for the implementation of projects that have been calling for the free zones system.
GAFI did not receive requests for investment with the free zone system since March. Requests preceding that date received initial approvals and were excluded from the suspension of the special free zones system on new projects.
The cabinet has permitted projects operating within the free zones system to import raw materials locally, so as not to resort to imports from abroad. The cabinet also allowed these projects to bring in the materials and waste resulting from their activities for the sole purpose of their disposal, provided they comply with environmental law and are implemented at the expense of the concerned parties.