UPDATE: Egypt to lower top tax rate and threshold, freeze capital gains tax, in two weeks, says finance minister:

Egypt will lower the top tax rate and threshold for companies and individuals in high income brackets and freeze a 10 percent tax on capital gains within two weeks in order to attract investors and boost the economy, the finance minister has said.

"We await the issuing of amendments lowering the income tax ceiling to 22.5 percent as well as amendments to the capital gains tax within a few days; one or two weeks at the most," Finance Minister Hany Dimian told Reuters in an interview.

The government had initially announced the decisions to lower the top tax rate on companies and individuals from 25 percent to 22.5 percent for 10 years in March, but it is yet to be signed into law by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

"The highest income bracket right now is LE250,000 ($32,000) annually and is taxed at 25 percent. This will be reduced to 22.5 percent and will be applied to those earning LE200,000, not LE250,000 like before," Dimian said.

In May, the government said it would freeze a 10 percent tax on capital gains, reversing a central component of its economic reform agenda that investors had criticised, but the freeze is yet to be signed into law.

It kept in place a 10 percent tax on stock dividends. The Cairo bourse had previously been exempt from any taxes on capital gains or dividends.

The taxes, approved by Sisi in July 2014 as part of efforts to overhaul an economy battered by years of political turmoil, were in April challenged in court.

Former army chief Sisi, who ousted Egypt's first freely elected president following mass protests against his rule, has promised a programme of reforms to win back foreign investors who fled the country after a 2011 uprising.

Egypt must balance attempts to narrow a budget deficit of around 10 percent of GDP with efforts to boost business activity.

($1 = LE7.8250)

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