'I do not agree with suspending work' completely over coronavirus, says Egypt's President Sisi

Mohamed Soliman , Tuesday 7 Apr 2020

Abdel-Fattah El Sisi
Egypt President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has said that the coronavirus situation in Egypt is "reassuring and under control" due to the efforts exerted by the state's apparatuses, adding that he is not in favour of suspending work in the country.

The virus has so far infected 1,322 people in Egypt and killed 85.

In a televised speech on Tuesday during an inspection tour of the Armed Forces' personnel and equipment assigned to assist the civil sector in confronting the virus, El-Sisi emphasised that Egypt can overcome this crisis only with the help of citizens, adding that compliance with the preventative measures would contribute to easing these precautions.

El-Sisi, who appeared wearing a medical mask, stressed the state’s readiness to distribute medical masks at half-price or for free if needed, adding “we have to pay more attention to the virus."

"We do not want to take tougher actions that could put more restrictions on people's movement, but we need to stick to all precautions," he added.

The president also underscored that Egypt's wheat stockpile is sufficient, saying "there is no problem in the strategic wheat reserves… and Egypt is ready to conduct expensive deals if necessary."

He stressed that “I don’t agree with suspending work completely in all sectors… it is dangerous… but we must take all pre-emptive measures.

"There are millions of people working for the state... but we have reduced the numbers… and suspended universities and schools… so we have removed the necessity for about 20 million people to be in crowded places.”

"If you [government institutions] want to work with only 50 percent [of the workforce] or less... it is possible... especially with seniors and women."

He also called on the private sector not to touch their workers' salaries or lay them off during these conditions.

“The government did not reduce employees’ salaries and I ask the private sector to do the same. We have called on the government to continue working with limited employment without affecting pay.”

The president also warned of "the scepticism campaign against the state," saying that “this will not undermine our will to confront this challenge."

"Why would we withhold coronavirus updates? All countries see this crisis… it is not our fault," he said.

The president added that these campaigns have failed previously to undermine people's confidence in the state during the drilling project of the Suez Canal or other challenges.

"Our confrontation of this evil fiction will last as it tries to return once again," the president pointed out.

He also reviewed the economic measures taken by the state to support different sectors and categories during this crisis, including providing allowances of EGP 500 for irregular workers for three months and taking the necessary measures to disburse the salaries of regular workers like those in the tourism sector.

The president also said that export enterprises will be exempted from introducing the fiscal position certificate that is required to disburse their dues from the Export Support Fund until June.

He added that 30 percent of export arrears will be disbursed over three tranches from the Export Support Find.

The president’s directives to support the sectors affected by the coronavirus have come into force, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said following El-Sisi’s meeting with the Cabinet’s Economic Cluster.

The minister noted that the government has prepared a draft law offering facilitation to the economic, productive and service sectors affected by the repercussions of this global epidemic.

The law allows the government to postpone the payment of taxes and other financial obligations for these sectors without additional financial burdens, the minister added.

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