An increase of EGP 87.8 billion has been earmarked in Egypt’s new budget for the education, higher education, health, and scientific research sectors, stated Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait in a statement before parliament on Sunday.
The increase represents a 13.7 percent rise on the allocations for the four sectors in the current fiscal year, which ends on 30 June.
According to Maait, the four sectors will receive a total of EGP 727.8 billion in the 2021/22 budget, up from EGP 640 billion in 2020/21.
"The increase meets the percentage stipulated in Egypt's constitution for these sectors and shows that the government is committed to increasing their allocations every year," he added.
Egypt's budget deficit recorded 13 percent of GDP when President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi came to power in 2014, the minister said.
"Due to the successful economic reform programme (2016-2019), we were able to cut the deficit to 6.6 per cent of GDP," said Maait, adding that "despite the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Egypt was able to achieve positive economic growth rates and stabilise the Egyptian pound on the exchange market."
Maait's statement came in response to complaints by a number of MPs, such as Sami Hashem, head of the House of Representatives' Education Committee, that allocations for the four sectors in the new budget failed to meet the quota stipulated in the constitution.
According to the constitution, the government's spending on education and higher education should not be less than four and two percent of GDP, respectively.
Article 18 of the constitution stipulates that the government's spending on health should not decrease than three per cent of GDP, while Article 23 says that spending on scientific research should not be less than one per cent.
Egypt's House of Representatives began discussions over the new 2021/22 budget and socio-economic development plan on Sunday.
Representatives of most political parties said they will vote in favour of the new budget and plan. Ashraf Rashad, the spokesperson of the parliamentary majority of Mostaqbal Watan Party, said while the new budget will not impose any financial burdens on citizens, the new plan aims to boost investments.
Fakhri El-Fiqi, head of the House's Budget Committee, said the new budget will increase the health sector's budget by 16 per cent, allocations for defence and national security by 13 percent, and for education by 10 per cent.
"These sectors received the largest increase in allocations in the new budget," said El-Fiqi.