Egypt State Information Service (SIS)
During July meeting with foreign correspondents at SIS
Planning Minister: Success of reform program enabled Egypt to face COVID-19
Wednesday، 08 July 2020 - 06:07 PM
Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Hala Al-Saeed assured that the comprehensive and successful economic reform that Egypt has implemented since 2016, enabled the Egyptian economy to withstand against effects and repercussions of the crisis of Coronavirus pandemic. She emphasized that this crisis led to a severe global economic crisis more than the global crisis of 2008, and worse than the great global recessIon of 1928.
The Minister of Planning added at the international press conference held by the State Information Service (SIS) and attended by the chairman of SIS, Diaa Rashwan, that the state has taken effective financial, economic and monetary measures to confront the crisis. Those measures included postponing the payment of all dues, reducing the interest rate by 300 points, providing credit facilities, and paying compensations for irregular workers.
The minister asserted that for the first time, a database is established for these cohorts, which helped us to provide financial subsidies for these irregular workers, noting that if this crisis occurred in 2016, the state would not be able to help them.
The Minister added during the conference, which was attended by a number of foreign correspondents, that the current crisis has Negatively affected the supply and demand chain, paralysing some sectors completely for several months, such as the tourism and air transport sectors as well as some industrial sectors, in addition to other sectors that were partially paralyzed and were able to deal with the crisis. She highlighted that a decline in the workers’ remittances is expected to take place whether due to the decrease in their wages or the dispensing with their services, noting that as the end of the crisis is unknown, the rate of consumption and the priorities of consumers are affected, and thus leading to a decline in employment rates and an increase in unemployment, not only in Egypt, but also Worldwide, where 40 million have applied for unemployment allowances in the United States, exceeding the estimated figure which is 25 million.
Al-Saeed said: When the crisis occurred, Egypt had just finished a strong economic reform program began in 2016 to address the imbalance in the economy, and ending dependence on painkillers.
In the context of this program, the exchange rate was liberalized and energy subsidy was lifted.
This program ... put Egypt in a better position than it was in 2016, that is confirmed by figures. In December 2019, the growth rate was 5.6%, compared to 2.3% in 2016, and unemployment rates decreased from 13% in 2016 to 7.5 In 2019, inflation in 2016 reached 33% and but decreased to 5% in 2019, and the budget deficit has been decreasing significantly over the past four years.
All above Factors gave Egypt’s companies and institutions the ability to face the current crisis, as the Egyptian economy is distinguished by its diversity and depends on a number of sectors not one sector.
The minister said that the state invested EGP 40 billion in the information technology sector, which benefited the educational system. All this helped the Egyptian economy to withstand within this crisis, and during the period from January to March 2020, Egypt achieved growth rate of more than 5%, and all indicators were in upward trend that it was projected to achieve 6% unless the outbreak of the current crisis.
The minister pointed out that the economic program that started in 2016 is a long-term plan that is in line with the sustainable goals of the United Nations that includes women and youth, and that the women have golden opportunities in this era where 25% of the local and parliamentary councils have been allocated to the women.
The minister said that 60% of the Egyptians are in the youth age group, and an academy has been established to train youth on leadership, noting that prior to her assumption of the ministry she was choosing young people for this training considering geographical distribution and representation of women . She said, ”today we have youth assistant ministers and deputy governors”.
Tackling the state's present plan for economic development, Dr. Hala Al-Sa’ed mentioned that the plan was based on several pivots, on top of which comes the continuation of the infrastructure upgrading, as Egypt has suffered from infrastructure weakness. The state has spent US 35 billion to develop electricity networks as well as the establishment of more than 13 new cities and economic zones, including Suez Canal region.
Hala Al-Sa’rd stressed that the state is determined to continue the preparations for the post-Coved 19 crisis, including paying due attention to the green economy as well as food, self-sufficiency and health, asserting the fact that reform is a dynamic process and not just a phase.
To conclude, she pointed out the importance of encouraging the private sector to actively participate in development efforts Egypt witnesses in all fields.