Minister reveals status of industrial sector amid COVID-19 crisis

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Tue, 28 Apr 2020 - 02:55 GMT

Workers are seen in front of a product line in a textile factory in Diyarbakir March 21, 2017 - REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Workers are seen in front of a product line in a textile factory in Diyarbakir March 21, 2017 - REUTERS/Umit Bektas

CAIRO – 28 April 2020: Minister of Industry and Trade NevineGamea stated that 1,008 factories requested permits to introduce a third shift in order to be able to deliver the orders they had received in light of the reduction in the number of workers in each shift as a protective measure against COVID-19.

"Those factories operate in the sectors of chemicals, textile, and engineering industries," the minister said in a phone-in with a TV program.The minister added that since January, imports have declined by 24 percent, while exports, particularly agricultural goods, rose by 2 percent.

Gamea clarified that the decline in imports is mostly caused by the exporting countries' inability to achieve a surplus due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. She notedthat the manufacturing inputs needed in many industries are still available because they had been imported months ago, and that the ministry is currently setting a plan on how to handle the situation after the stocks are finished.

Gamea stated that the ministry examines the possibility of producing certain manufacturing inputs locally.

On another note, the minister stated that around 400 SMEs applied for the exceptional loan worth LE1 million maximum for businesses in the manufacturing sector, and LE500,000 maximum for businesses in the service sector.

The loan is offered by the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (MSMEDA) for businesses operating in intensive-labor sectors to cover operating costs, and must be repaid within a year.

In addition, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is offering LE100 billion worth of soft loans with 5 percent interest rate for the manufacturing sector.

CBE is also offering LE50 billion in loans to the tourism sector which is exempted from real estate tax for 3 months.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi declared on April 7 offering the civil aviation sector a bailout amid COVID-19 global crisis

The other measures, endorsed to support companies and businesses to alleviate the crisis include real estate tax exemption for 3 months, paying the fees of tax statement reports over 3 installments until June 30, and removing holds on bank accounts of default investors if they pay 10 percentof the debt.

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