File photo: Egypt s House of Representatives. Al-Ahram
The amendment to Article 9 of the law, drafted by MP Hisham Hilal and 60 MPs, aims to extend the law by two months -- or for the next four to six months.
Hilal said the law, which was passed by the House of Representatives and ratified by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi last October, stipulated a very short period of time – four months – for Egyptian expatriates to take advantage of the tax-free import initiative. "This short period of time made it difficult for many Egyptian expatriates, particularly those working in Arab Gulf countries, to take advantage of the tax and custom exemptions offered by the law. Most of those expats have long-term business contracts. Hence, it is better to extend the grace period for two more months to allow a larger number of Egyptian expats import tax-free cars," said Hilal.
"The four-month exemption period stated in the law is due to expire in the last week of February, so the amendment was drafted to extend it by an additional two months."
Hilal's proposed legislative amendment was approved by Minister of Emigration Soha Guindi and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Alaaeddin Fouad. Fouad said "the amendment will help more foreign exchange receipts to flow into the country's banking system."
Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CIB) Sherif Farouk said "the CIB has no objection to any amendments that may increase the country's foreign exchange. The amendments should strike a balance between the interests of the Egyptian people and the need for doubling the country's foreign revenues."
The law was drafted in October as part of a government initiative to attract much needed foreign currency to the country and solve part of Egypt's foreign exchange gap crisis.
Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait told the House of Representatives at that time that the government had hopes the law would attract $2.5 billion into Egypt.
Under the law, Egyptian expats who have valid residence permits abroad and bank accounts will be allowed to import one private passenger vehicle for personal use provided it was manufactured no longer than three years before import date.
The law stipulates that expats have to use foreign currency to purchase a five-year certificate of deposit (CD), equal to the amount of taxes and customs due on the vehicle, with the finance ministry but at no interest.
In December, Maait said the government would introduce changes to the law's executive bylaws to make it easier for a larger number of Egyptians to take advantage of the facilities provided.