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Egypt pensioners voice dissatisfaction with president's raise

General Union of Pensioners demands sharper increase, criminal investigation into 'billions of pounds' allocated to pensions but pilfered under Egypt's Mubarak regime

Ahram Online, Wednesday 4 Jul 2012
General union of pensioners holds press conference to voice dissatisfaction with pension-rates and salaries (Photo: Ahram)

Members of Egypt's General Union of Pensioners have voiced dissatisfaction with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's decision this week to raise public-sector pension rates, calling for a sharper increase and investigations into funds allocated to senior citizens "embezzled" under the ousted Mubarak regime.

"We don't want charity; we're demanding our rights," union head and former MP El-Badri Farghaly said at a press conference at Tagammu Party headquarters on Wednesday.

"There's around LE600 billion in interest on the money allocated to pensions," he added. "Some LE143 billion has also been distributed to foreign companies and turned into loans for Mubarak associates without insurance or interest."

Morsi issued a decision on Sunday calling for 15 per cent bonuses on public-sector salaries and raising monthly social-insurance pension rates from LE200 to LE300. Neither the bonuses nor the pension increases will be taxed by the state.

"We insist on getting 30 per cent bonuses in addition to the basic pension," Farghaly said.

The union has further demanded that Egypt's prosecutor-general conduct criminal investigations into pension funds they claim were pilfered during the former regime. They also called for a "minimum pension" equal to 80 per cent of the national minimum wage.

Farghaly went on to attack the finance ministry for being "anti-poor," describing the state budget recently proposed by Egypt's military council as a "budget that favours the rich" at the expense of the nation's poor.

"We will not pay the bills of the super-rich," he asserted.          

Senior citizens at the press conference, however, stressed they would only use "civilised ways to achieve their goals, without resorting to public disturbances or blocking roads."

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