August 2017 has seen the passing of some very important pieces of legislation, in addition to a number of other presidential, ministerial, and administrative decrees.
In Companies and Investment, the Executive Regulations of the much-anticipated Industrial Licenses Law were issued on schedule following the passing of the law in May. The legislation is aimed at providing a simpler and clearer process for the issuing of industrial licenses by identifying the Industrial Development Agency as a one-stop-shop for licensing, and creating a simple licensing-by-notice process for low risk industrial activities. If properly applied, the new system could present a real breakthrough in reducing the heavy bureaucracy that mars Egypt's ease of doing business on investment climate indicators.
Also this month, a law was passed considering the Golden Triangle region which is the stretch of land running between the Nile and the Red Sea in Upper Egypt - an economic zone of special nature under the Special Economic Zones Law. Areas defined as an economic zone enjoy different types of benefits, including favourable treatment in terms of customs, taxes, import, and export.
In an important legislative development, the new Gas Market Activities Law passed this month opens the industry to greater private sector involvement and creates a new regulator - the Gas Market Activities Regulation Authority - effectively tasked with the gradual liberalization of the gas market in Egypt. The newly created authority will be the main point of contact for private sector companies entering the Egyptian gas market, and will be responsible for issuing related operating licenses.
Moving on to Financial Markets, the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority ( EFSA ) issued a decision amending the Listing and Delisting Rules of Securities on the Egyptian Stock Exchange.The amendment pertains to SME listing conditions, modifies a consequence of non-compliance with the rules of continued listing of securities, and provides more stringent procedures for delisting. In addition, EFSA also issued rules containing new measures that the authority could take in the event of violations of the Central Securities Depository Law.
In Taxes, a law was published to temporarily suspend the application of the agricultural land tax promulgated in 1939 for a period of three years starting on 21 August 2017. The Agricultural Land Tax Law 113 of 1939 had imposed a tax of 14% (of the rental value per acre in a year) on all agricultural land whether planted, or good for agriculture.
Miscellaneous topics include the passing of the Law on the Rules and Procedures for the Disposal of State Property which outlines the procedures for legalizing the transfer of state private land currently under illegal possession. The Law adopted a decentralized approach, leaving it up to each administrative authority to establish its own special committees for legalization, instead of assigning the task to a central committee. A period of three months (renewable for one term) was set for submitting requests for legalization.
Finally, a new Law was issued to regulate advertisements for medical products and services. The law prohibits the advertising of products and services defined within its scope without attaining a license from a specialized committee that is to be established according to its provisions. It also sets out penalties that start at confiscating products and money, and could go up to a prison sentence and a fine. The penalty is harshened if a person dies as a result of using the medical product or service that has been advertised without a license.
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