Trade, unemployment are Egypt aid package's top priorities: Scobey

Salma El-Wardani , Saturday 21 May 2011

Ambassador tells Ahram Online the US is consulting Egyptian government and civil society to decide the best targets for aid and development loans

Margaret Scobey
Departing US Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey held a press briefing at the embassy on Saturday (Photo: Reuters)

Aid programmes for Egypt will likely be aimed at employment and trade, says the US ambassador to the country.

"I think the aid package the US is offering to Egypt may be more directed towards employment programmes," Margaret Scobey told Ahram Online during a media roundtable held in the US embassy in Cairo on Saturday. "But there are many things and ideas to do." 

"One of the other elements we can focus more on is trade and regional immigration [of this] with the EU and the US," she said.

Asked whether the US will dictate ways of investment under the debt swap program, Scobey answered: "We will have some consultations with the government to see how they need to implement it."

"We think we've been listening carefully to what Egyptians need from the US," she added.

Asked whether there will be any consultation with other civil society or youth groups concerning the debt, she said: 

"We have been supporting democracy in Egypt for the recent years, this goes straight out to the civil society,  So, we've already begun this process many many years ago."

"On the economic side, we've also been offering grants for years financial assistance to civil society"

"Concerning the debt relief issue, we would love to see proposals from youth and civil society that helps create employment and build back the economy."

Stating her belief that the economic success of a country depends on its private sector, Scobey said Egypt had implemented some reforms in recent years but "it's not enough to have a legal structure that protects the investment environent - you should have counter-corruption rules."

She also believes that loan guarantees for infrastructure projects mean the US "can help Egypt ... significantly in the coming years."

Scobey said she expects further developments in late-May.

"We will work to assure the Egyptian issue will be brought up during Obama's visit to France next week for the G8 meeting. We've been assured that the issue of support for transition in Egypt and Tunisia will be highest priority," she said.

Among the forms of assistance she also mentioned were financial backing to support local small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) lending, insurance for Egyptian financial institutions, distribution of letters of credit, and other programs.

"We've just taking the first steps getting Congressional approval for both Egypt and Tunisia, just like we did with ex-communist counties," Scobey said.
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