President of the World Bank Group (WBG) David Malpass lauded Egypt’s efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, including the EGP100 billion allocation that was appropriated to strengthen the health sector, and finance a comprehensive economic recovery plan to offset the repercussions that will result from the precautionary measures taken.
Malpass made his statements during the Human Capital Project Ministerial Conclave that was held on Saturady, virtually, on investing in human capital in the time of COVID-19; the conclave being a part of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and WBG introductory events that are held before the official launch of their annual meetings on Monday.
Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation and Governor of Egypt at the WBG Rania Al-Mashat, represented Egypt in the meeting.
The conclave brought together ministers of finance and planning from 78 countries who are participants in the WBG’s human capital project to share experiences, mobilise and safeguard resources in order to protect and invest in people amid the pandemic, and adopt innovative solutions for better and more equitable human capital outcomes.
Minister Al-Mashat stated that Egypt has put investment in human capital as a top priority, as evidenced by its three-pronged approach: increase in allocation for health and social spending; ensure continued provision of critical social protection; and review social spending to assess efficiency and look for areas of improvement.
She noted that allocations for health spending have increased significantly since the onset of the pandemic, and that 60,000 households were added to the Takaful and Karama programme as well as an additional 100,000 will be added due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the programme's launch in 2015, with the support of the WBG program, the minister noted that the programme has covered over 2.26 million households, which amounts to approximately 9.4 million individuals, or approximately 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
Al-Mashat added that the government has identified 1.5 million informal workers to receive cash transfers to mitigate the economic effects of the crisis.
To improve the quality of and access to education, the WBG launched a five-year supporting Egypt education reform project, providing a loan worth $500 million, in 2018 to provide 1.5 million students and teachers with digital learning facilities.
The minister asserted that the participation of women in Egypt is regarded as macro-critical, which is why the Ministry of International Cooperation, the National Council for Women, and the World Economic Forum, launched the “closing the gender gap accelerator”, a national public-private collaboration model which enables governments and businesses to take decisive action on closing economic gender gaps, and increase women’s participation in the private sector.