President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi at the Military Academy earlier Saturday. Photo :Egyptian Presidency
El-Sisi emphasised to military students the need for a "very ambitious plan" for the economy, industry, and production requirements aimed at diminishing foreign currency expenditure by establishing domestic substitutes.
“As long as we cannot secure this large value [of the import bill] by working, exports and providing alternatives in Egypt, we will suffer,” El-Sisi said.
Egypt has suffered from a foreign currency crunch over the past year against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war and the global economic crisis, which placed pressure on local currency and caused inflation to soar.
El-Sisi promised the populace that essential goods would remain available for several months. However, he highlighted the difficulty of providing fuel for millions of cars nationwide.
El-Sisi's comments come as people wait for the Fuel Automatic Pricing Committee (FAPC) to make a judgement regarding potential adjustments in fuel prices for Q3 of 2023.
The committee, which meets every three months, raised diesel prices last May by EGP 1 to 8.25 Egyptian pounds but maintained all other gasoline prices.
“We have 10 million cars moving across the entire republic daily,” El-Sisi said. “We need to get them the required fuel, of which we import a large part.”
According to El-Sisi, for power plants to operate at full capacity despite the rising temperatures, 18,000 tonnes of mazut are needed daily.
“Monthly, we need more than half a million tons of mazut, which costs around $300-350 million,” the president noted.
He further stated that Egypt would have a serious issue if not for the current significant natural gas output.
Egypt has embarked on a load-shedding programme since mid-July amid the heatwave that has caused consumption to exceed the gas available for power stations.
El-Sisi discussed the rise in commodity prices and reaffirmed that the government is working on several measures to lessen the effects of the ongoing crisis.
He continued by saying that Egypt is always eager to have sufficient supplies of staples like wheat, maise and cooking oil to last for five to six months.
According to El-Sisi, Egypt's annual wheat consumption might exceed 20 million tons, and the country will still need to import at least half of its needs.
He pointed out that Egypt imports more than 90 percent of the cooking oil it needs.
El-Sisi stated that Egypt will have more than three million feddans (one feddan is equal to 1.038 acres) in various regions of the country during the upcoming months but added that the government will still need to import significant amounts of its goods to meet people's requirements.
“We have 105 million [citizens] and nine million [foreign migrants] who are living with us. We need to keep their needs available in Egypt,” the president stressed.