Egypt's economic reform cushioned coronavirus shocks: Finance minister tells MPs

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 1 Feb 2021

The World Bank recently reported that Egypt's tackling of the coronavirus crisis was very wise, said Maait

Mohamed Maait
Egypt's Finance Minister Mohamed Maait. Al-Ahram

In a policy statement before parliament on Monday, Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait told MPs that Egypt's IMF-inspired economic reform programme alleviated the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the country's finances and growth rates.

Maait said the strong political will and Egyptians' support led to the success of the 2016-2019 economic reform programme. "We are now one of the few world countries achieving high growth rates thanks to the economic reform programme," he said.

Since President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi took office in 2014, consecutive governments have decided to shoulder the burden of implementing bold economic reform measures and taking the country to safe shores, Maait said.

He added that the World Bank said in a report issued two days ago that Egypt's tackling of the coronavirus crisis was very wise.

"The World Bank said the country's economic reforms in the last few years made it capable of absorbing two shocks in two years. The first was the crisis of emerging markets in 2018 and the second was the coronavirus crisis in 2020," said Maait.

He also cited the World Bank's report as saying that "the state's preventive measures such as cutting interest rates and stimulating businesses made it more capable of containing the negative impact of the coronavirus."

Maait said that state revenues increased by 16 per cent in the first half of the current fiscal year. "This is a very good development because growth in revenues was achieved despite the painful effect of the coronavirus crisis," he said, adding that "at the same time, the state's expenditure increased by 10 per cent because of the increase in spending on the healthcare sector, pensions and social protection programmes."

The finance minister also indicated that Egypt has achieved a 3.6 per cent economic growth rate in 2020. "This is a good figure though we were targeting a six per cent growth," said Maait.

He indicated that the government's objectives in the coming stage are to achieve macroeconomic stability, realise sustainable development programmes, deepen structural reforms to raise the economy's competitive edge, and implement greater social protection programmes to improve the living conditions of poor strata.

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