File Photo: Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (Reuters)
Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said the country's economic reform programme is not merely aimed at propping up the state's budget but is meant to improve people’s living standards and make the Egyptian economy stronger.
Ismael's remarks came during a three-day economic conference arranged by Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper that kicked off on Saturday and was attended by a slew of ministers.
Ismael said the country's three-year economic reform programme is based on the four main facets of: improving the country's monetary policies by trimming budget and diminishing public debt, boosting investment and growth rates, introducing social solidarity measures as well as carrying out giant national projects including in housing, electricity and infrastructure.
The government's "economic reform programme should not be reduced to a mere series of decisions or actions to resolve problems dogging the state budget," Ismail said during his speech.
The reform measures are rather aimed at raising citizens' living standards, improving public services, developing a more effective subsidy system, curbing population growth and boosting investment rates, he added.
Egypt's slump in foreign reserves and its widening budget deficit have pushed the country to launch a reform programme to stabilise the economy. Last week, the central bank floated the pound and raised fuel prices. The government has also cut electricity subsidies and introduced a new Value Added Tax.
On Friday, the International Monetary Fund said its executive board has approved a three-year bailout programme totalling $12 billion to Egypt to support the country's flagging economy. Officials had said the move would restore investor confidence and boost the country's foreign reserves.
Also on Friday, global rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) revised Egypt’s sovereign credit outlook from “negative” to “stable” due to the projected support by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).