Thursday’s papers: taxes, elections, and satellite TV

“95 percent of residential units are exempt from taxes,” reads the headline of state-owned newspaper, Al-Ahram. LE30 million is the total expected to be collected from the 6th of October and Sheikh Zaied governorates, according to Youssef Botros Ghali, Minster of Finance. Homes rented for LE6000 annually or less are exempted from taxes. Ghali asserts that this law, wherein the property tax class has been reduced from 40 percent to 10 percent, has succeeded in solving the pitfalls in the old real estate tax law.

The independent paper Al-Shorouk reports that only 83 percent of those residential units are exempted from taxes. Al-Shorouk quotes the head of the tax department, Tarek Farag, who explains that taxes won't be counted only according to the area of the residence, but according to other factors like water and electricity usage. This issue of residential taxes was newly introduced this year, when Egyptians were supposed to provide information on any properties they own or rent which are  worth more than LE500,000, even if unoccupied.

According to Al-Shorouk, the Muslim Brotherhood denies that it will participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections. “Expenditure on the poor is much more important than spending on a political system doomed to failure,” said the Muslim Brotherhood's Nageh Ibrahim. Ibrahim also explained that the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t see any point in trying to engage in politics since they have been banned from the elections. But Essam el-Erian, a top figure in the Muslim Brotherhood said, “Each faction in the group has the right to choose his own way, leaving others to do what they want.” This means that the Muslim Brotherhood is divided within themselves, one group boycotting the elections and another group participating.

According to Al-Wafd newspaper, representatives from the Wafd opposition party met to discuss electoral guarantees. Wafd head, Said el-Badawy, said that since the United States doesn’t want democracy in Egypt, he will not accept any financial support for his party.

Following the release of political activists and the proposition for changes to Egypt's Emergency Law, Saad el-Din Ibrahim, the political activist and head of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies at the American University of Cairo, returned to Cairo yesterday after three years outside the country, according to Al-Dostour opposition newspaper. He came to visit his family and friends. Ibrahim said he was ready to face each complaint filed against him and is not afraid of interrogation.

In a phone call with US President Obama, President Hosni Mubarak warned of the serious implications from any escalation on the Lebanese-Israeli front, according to state-owned Al-Akhbar newspaper. Moreover, he stressed the importance of any attempt from the Israeli side in stopping settlements.

Today occasions the launching of a new Egyptian satellite (Nile Sat 201), the country's third, according to Al-Akhbar newspaper. The project, which has cost US237 million is expected to fill an important gap in the technological advances in this field.

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose el-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouq: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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