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Egypt: Army-owned company asking government for $212m to rent offices

Sisi approves payment to ACUD, on basis it is not the only business to rent properties to the Egyptian government
A workman at a building site at Egypt's New Administrative Capital project, on 7 March 2021 (AFP)

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said on Wednesday that the military-owned company building the country's new administrative capital wants to rent the government a district which would house the ministerial offices, for $212m a year.

Sisi said during the inauguration of the Digital Egypt national project that "People ask us 'From where are you getting these monies?', while the new capital is from the government's funds.

"We are transparent and honest, our resources were only the idea, and the capital company did the building and is asking us a yearly money as a rent, as it did pay its own money in the project," Sisi said.

Sisi also told the minister of finance to pay the money, explaining that the military-owned Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) is not the only entity to rent properties to the Egyptian government. He added that the company had more than 40 billion Egyptian pounds in the banks.

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The ACUD was founded in 2016 to embark on a large-scale project of building neighbourhoods and government districts housing the parliament and all the ministerial offices, almost 45 km east of the current capital, Cairo.

However, the new capital is yet to be completed, with a price tag exceeding $50bn and suffering from funding shortfalls.

Sisi had also said that Egypt is planning to transform its bureaucratic system into a paperless, digital one.

"We are working on it now, and part of the work will be carried through artificial intelligence," he said.

Firms owned by the Egyptian army have flourished since Sisi rose to power in 2014. Almost 51 percent of ACUD is owned by the military, which also owns the country's biggest cement plant, besides fish farms, holiday resorts and other projects.