'Unprecedented population growth' is Egypt's biggest challenge, PM Ismail tells House

Ahram Online , Monday 2 Oct 2017

PM Sherif Ismail
File Photo: Prime Minister Sherif Ismail speaks in front of the Egyptian Parliament in October 2016 (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Population growth is set to pose the biggest challenge to the country, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told MPs during a speech on the first day of parliament’s new session on Monday.

“In all honesty, the biggest challenge that we should be combating is population growth; especially after we reached an unprecedented increase that would affect what has been accomplished in terms of economic growth,” Ismail said during his address.

He added that his government cannot alone carry out this "national mission," stressing that it needs the support of the nation and its representatives in parliament.

“The president ordered earlier that a comprehensive strategy be put in place to overcome this major challenge that has been crippling the country for decades. We have indeed pinpointed a strategy, but we need the support of all involved bodies,” he said.

Ismail’s statements come two days after Egypt officially announced its population had hit 104.2 million, with 94.7 million living within the countrty and 9.4 million abroad.

In recent months, Egyptian officials have described the country's rapid population growth as an "actual catastrophe" that threatens the nationl development plans and demands aggressive attention, just like the country's war against terrorism.

Last July, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi shed light on the dilemma, describing it as a “threat to both Egyptians and the government, with each having a role to perform," although the benefits of the preventative measures would not be immediately visible.

Addressing Wider Challenges

Ismail highlighted this agenda during Monday's opening day, which marked the start of this parliament's third legislative session of his government's five-year term.

The prime minister praised the parliament’s efforts and support for the government in its duties, and also presented recently finalized draft bills, as well as ones that are yet to be discussed by the House.

According to Ismail, this session's agenda would include legislation on health insurance, tenders and auctions, social insurances, people with special needs, and youth laws.

“Under President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s leadership we have accomplished security and economic stability. Your assembly had a vital role in achieving this,” he said, adding that the government was also able to attract foreign investments through a series of legislations.

Ismail also highlighted several important pieces of legislation which were passed during the parliament’s first and second sessions, including the 2016 civil service law and others which aim to provide support to low-income sectors.

“The government and your respectable assembly will continue to work to accelerate efforts aiming to ensure the success of this nation. Your assembly has fully carried out its supervisory role and has not spared any effort to combat corruption,” he concluded.

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