Egypt’s parliament – the House of Representatives – approved on Tuesday amending two laws aiming to contain the negative economic impact of the coronavirus.
The house approved amending two articles of the real estate and property tax law (196/2008) to relieve businesses of some tax burdens imposed on their affiliated lands.
Maait told MPs that the legislative amendments aim to give exemptions to industries and businesses negatively affected by the precautionary measures taken to fight the coronavirus.
"These amendments were approved by the cabinet and aim to relieve industries and businesses of some of the tax burdens to help them weather the economic storm of the coronavirus," said Maait.
The amendment states that lands owned by industries and businesses are to be exempted from the real estate tax provided that these lands are used in industrial and production activities.
The executive regulations will give the finance minister the power to estimate the value of the tax exemptions and determine how long they will be in place.
"And upon a report to be submitted by the finance minister, the cabinet will decide whether industries using their affiliated lands in industrial, strategic and service activities are eligible for real estate tax exemptions," said the government report on the amended law.
Parliament also approved amending the current state 2019/20 budget to earmark an EGP 10 billion allocation to help fight the coronavirus and stimulate the economy at the same time.
Maait explained that due to the critical conditions imposed by the spread of the coronavirus, the government was forced to ask parliament to amend the 2019/20 budget to allocate EGP 10 billion to meet this objective.
"This additional allocation aims to help the day and seasonal labourers negatively affected by the precautionary measures taken to contain the coronavirus, not to mention that it also aims to push the wheels of production in many sectors," said Maait, also explaining that "the EGP 10 billion is part of an emergency plan estimated at EGP 100 billion which was approved by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on 14 March to mitigate the economic cost of the coronavirus on Egypt."
Meanwhile, parliament also approved a new seven-article government-drafted law on "financial measures necessary to contain the negative impact of the coronavirus on productive, economic and service sectors."
"The law gives the cabinet the power to intervene to suspend the payment of certain taxes and other financial obligations such as social insurance or allow them to be paid in long-term instalments," said Maait.
The law states that the postponement will be for a renewable three-month period, and stipulates that businesses are not to fire workers or even cut their salaries to be eligible for the postponement.
Parliament also approved amendments to four articles of the income tax law (law 91/2005).
Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait told MPs that the amendments aim to achieve social justice, particularly for low-income citizens and state employees.
"The amendments help these brackets relieve some of the income tax burdens, and I can say that these amendments will help a low-income state employee raise his salary by EGP 2,000 a month," Maait said.
Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said that although the articles of these laws have been approved by MPs, the final vote on them will be postponed to another date.