Egypt seeks to cut public debt to 80% of GDP by 2017: Minister

Ahram Online, Tuesday 9 Sep 2014

Egypt's total public debt now stands at nearly 95 percent of GDP - but the government hopes reforms will slash both debt and the budget deficit

Hani Qadri
Minister of Finance Hani Qadri (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's government aims to reduce the country's total public debt, which currently accounts for some 95 percent of GDP, to 80-85 percent by the 2016/2017 fiscal year, Finance Minister Hany Kadry Demian said on Monday.

Egypt's budget deficit, which ballooned in recent years to reach 14 percent of GDP at the end of the 2013/2014 fiscal year ending in June, will be reduced to under 10 percent of GDP by the 2016/2017 fiscal year, said the minister, without specifying the exact target.

The general direction of government policy is to bolster tax revenues and expand the tax base, while reducing government spending on subsidies and involving the private sector in public projects through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) arrangements, said Demian, speaking at an event organised by the British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA).

Egypt has embarked on a series of reform measures since the June election of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who pushed the finance ministry to revise a draft budget days before the end of the fiscal year to lower the budget deficit target to 10 percent.

In July, the government raised the price of state-subsidised fuels by as much as 78 percent in an effort to cut LE44 billion out of its annual energy subsidy bill, while raising the prices of commercial and household electricity.

This has been accompanied by fiscal reforms, such as a temporary 5 percent income tax hike on the richest individuals and corporations, taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, a capital gains tax on the stock market and a property tax, with a Value Added Tax (VAT) still in the works.

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