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Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 25 - 04 - 2019


UBE on the block
THE UNITED Bank of Egypt (UBE) will be sold to a US investment fund within three months, Tarek Amer, governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), said on Monday.
The US fund, the name of which has not been revealed, is one of the world's largest with capital of $104 billion, revealed Amer. According to banking experts, the sale of the United Bank will contribute to strengthening Egypt's foreign reserves and help further develop the banking system.
The United Bank was created in 2006 when, as part of a banking overhaul, the CBE merged three banks that were facing bankruptcy — the Islamic Bank for Development and Investment, the Nile Bank and the United Egyptian Bank — in order to protect depositors.
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IMF bearish about region
IN A NEWLY-released report the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that Egypt's current account deficit will decline by two per cent of GDP by 2020. The report, which looks at the economies of 23 countries in North Africa, the Levant, the Persian Gulf and Pakistan, expects overall growth across these nations to slow from close to two per cent last year to 1.5 per cent in 2019.
Political uncertainty and volatile oil prices are weighing heavily on economic growth in the Middle East. For oil importing countries like Egypt inflation is expected to at around 10 per cent in 2019. For most of the countries surveyed unemployment among young people remains close to 25 per cent. Yet the IMF expects Egypt's exports to remain on an upward track, predicts a boom in its tourism sector and anticipates more natural gas discoveries.
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Maintaining values
THE SUPREME Council for Media Regulation has called on production companies and television channels to uphold “Egyptian values, ethics, tradition and identity” in television series, programmes and commercials screened during Ramadan which starts on Monday. In a statement issued on Sunday the committee said “it is necessary to respect the nature of the holy month and reaffirm the prohibition on airing commercials that violate Egyptian values and the spiritual nature of Ramadan.”
The council warned that legal procedures will be taken against anyone violating the media code.
Ramadan is radio and television's main season for premiering new programmes with dozens of new series, as well as commercials, hitting the airwaves. The press and media regulation law, ratified in 2018, specified the duties of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation and assigned it the task of supervising broadcast content.
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Multi-use syringes banned
THE HEALTH Ministry has announced that from July 2020 the only syringes available in Egypt will be single-use disposable ones. The aim is to reduce the threat of disease transmission, said Health Ministry Spokesperson Khaled Megahed.
In preparation for the change plans are afoot to consolidate domestic capacity to produce the two billion syringes that will be required annually, said Megahed. In 2015, in response to calls by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to only use single-use syringes by 2020, Egypt announced a plan to establish a factory to produce the items.
Reuse of syringes is one of the main causes of the spread of Hepatitis C. Egypt has successfully launched an initiative, funded by the WHO, to eradicate Hepatitis C virus and other chronic diseases.
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Largest desalination station
NORTH Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel-Fadil Shousha has inaugurated an LE68.5 million water desalination station in the Masaed district of Arish.
The opening of the station came as part of the governorate's celebrations of Sinai Liberation Day. In a statement issued on Sunday Shousha said that the governorate will witness an unprecedented leap in the quantity of potable water available. He also announced that Arish will soon be home to the biggest water desalination station in the Middle East, with a capacity of 100,000 cubic metres daily.


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