Egypt doesn't have the luxury of postponing economic reform: Prime minister

Ahram Online , Friday 4 Nov 2016

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail spoke to journalists at an unusual Friday press conference

File Photo: Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (Reuters)

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said on Friday that Egypt "did not have the luxury" of postponing urgent economic reforms, speaking a day after the country floated its currency and increased the prices of subsidised fuel.

"These decisions are our fate, and we have to move forward and the Egyptian economy [has to] improve," Ismail said at a press conference held unusually on a Friday, the first day of the weekend.

On Thursday, the central bank floated the Egyptian pound and raised interest rates, while the petroleum ministry increased prices of petrol and gas by between 30 and 50 percent.

Ismail described Thursday as "an historic day," adding that all the economic reforms taken are part of a “100 percent Egyptian” programme.

The reforms are part of a move to get the International Monetary Fund board's approval for a $12 billion loan package to be delivered over three years. 

Ismail said the economic programme aims to decrease the budget deficit, which currently stands at 12.2 percent of GDP, to less than 10 percent.

The economic reform programme, according to the prime minister, will aim to increase taxes and reduce state subsidies.

He also said that the majority of the state budget was being exhausted on subsidies, leaving only EGP 200 billion to spend on health, education and other services.

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