In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and its financial implications, the Egyptian government has taken numerous measures and issued a number of decrees to support the Egyptian economy and businesses during these challenging times. In line with such measures, on 7 May 2020, the Law No. 24 of 2020 on Setting-out Financial Rules for the Ramifications of the Novel Coronavirus (the “Financial Rules Law”) was issued.
1. Facilitation Measures under the Financial Rules Law
The Financial Rules Law sets out some financial facilitation measures for companies, entities and individuals working in the sectors affected by COVID-19, whereby, the Cabinet upon the proposal of the Minister of Finance in accordance with the information submitted by the competent ministries is entitled to take the following measures:
- Real Estate Tax: Postpone the payment of the real estate tax which is imposed on buildings that are actually used in the economic sectors or production and service-related activities affected by COVID-19, partially or wholly, for a renewable period of three months.
- Income Tax and Value-added Tax: Grant the taxpayers registered within economic sectors or production and service-related activities affected by COVID-19 a grace period to submit their tax returns or postpone the payment of due taxes, partially or wholly, for a renewable period of three months. There will not be any fee for delayed payment or additional tax applied during the grace period. The latter will also not be included in the duration of the limitation period for the due tax.
- Administrative Services Fee: The recipient of administrative services is allowed to pay the fees in installments without interests, for a renewable period of three months.
- Social Insurance Contributions: Employers are entitled to a grace period to pay the social insurance contributions and settle due payments or to make such payments in installments, partially or wholly, for a renewable period of three months, without additional payments.
The Financial Rules Law grants the Prime Minister the authority to issue the necessary decrees to implement the financial facilitation measures.
2. The Sectors Affected by COVID-19
The sectors affected by COVID-19 will be determined by virtue of a Cabinet decree. It is worth noting that the Egyptian Tax Authority has previously issued circular No. 47 of 2020 on 27 April 2020 providing for tax facilitation measures, including settling income tax in installments available to the affected sectors, such as aviation, tourism and antiquities, hospitality, media, manufacturing and telecommunications as well as sports and sports services.
It is still unclear whether the Cabinet decree will be issued in alignment with the above or if it will amend or add new affected sectors.
3. Conditions for Application
The Financial Rules Law provides the following conditions to benefit or to continue to benefit from the stipulated facilitation measures:
- Entities shall not lay off employees and shall not have previously laid them off; and
- Entities shall not reduce the basic salaries of employees.
It is worth noting that entities which have undertaken any of the aforementioned actions may be entitled to benefit from the facilitation measures under the Financial Rules Law, provided that any laid-off employee is re-employed.
4. Entry into Force
The Financial Rules Law has retroactively entered into force as of 31 March 2020.
5. Next Steps
Adsero will continue to monitor further updates to the Financial Rules Law and to COVID-19 related legislation.
If you think your business may be eligible to receive financial aid, you may together with your sector stakeholders build a case and apply to the cabinet for a decision to grant aid to your sector. We are happy to assist you with such an initiative from a legal standpoint along with our colleagues in public policy service.