5.9B EGP donated by businessmen at Sisi banquet
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's meeting with businessmen sunday - Photo courtesy of Presidential office

CAIRO:  About 50 Egyptian businessmen donated over 5 billion EGP ($700 million) during an official banquet organized by the presidency for Iftar at Ithadeya presidential palace, Al-Watan news reported Monday.

Among the businessmen who attended the banquet were Naguib Sawiras, Mamdouh Abbas, head of GB Auto Raouf Ghabbour, head of Multipharma pharmaceuticals Ahmed el Ezaby, Nessim Mansour, Youssef Mansour, head of Beshay steel group Kamal Beshay, Ahmed Abo Hashima, head of Ceramica Cleopatra Group Mohamed Abo el-Enein and others, according to Al-Watan.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and the ministers of investment finance and electricity also attended.

The donations included 5.59 billion EGP in the form of checks and in-kind donations. The Sawiras family topped the list of donors with 3 billion EGP. CBC owner Mohamed Amin donated half of his shares in Amer Group, equal to 1.2 billion EGP and Amer Group Chairman Mansour Amer donated 500 million EGP, Youm7 reported Tuesday.

The head of the Chamber of Metallurgical Industries at the industries union, Gamal el-Garhy, said that there was no pressure imposed upon businessmen to donate this money, Al-Watan reported.

Sisi said at the dinner the Egyptian economy will hold on to free-market mechanisms and discussed plans to start a number of new projects, including 3,500 kilometers of new roads for 35 billion EGP.

Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Federation head Ahmed al-Wakeel complained that he was not invited to the event, and said the snub was particularly outrageous considering he represents 4.2 million merchants, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm. He compared the conference to the way he accused former President Mohamed Morsi of handling the economy. “Businessmen are invited to meet the president while economic organizations responsible for the state’s economy are neglected,” he said.

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