Finance Minister Mohamed Mait (Al-Ahram)
Egypt's budget lost EGP 220 billion (approximately $14 billion) in revenues in the fourth quarter of the 2019/2020 fiscal year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in an interview with the privately-owned satellite TV channel ON on Monday night.
The minister said that until the end of June, the country spent up to EGP 65 billion (approximately $4 billion) out of an EGP 100 billion ($6 billion) financial package earmarked earlier this year for fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
The package was allocated in accordance with directives issued by the President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in March to finance a “comprehensive plan” to stop the spread of the virus.
In a bid to curtail the pandemic, Egypt had adopted lockdown measures in March through July, which included a nighttime curfew, suspending air traffic, shuttering schools and universities, closing mosques and churches and banning public gatherings.
However, the government began the move towards a gradual reopening of the economy in June, lifting the curfew, reopening restaurants and places of worship, and resuming regular international flights as part of its plans to coexist with the virus.
During the interview on Monday, the minister stressed that the Egyptian economy is preparing for a possible second wave of the virus, adding that the president has called for allocating new funds to the country's new budget in preparation for this anticipated second wave.
Coronavirus infections are on an upward curve currently after three months of reporting less than 200 cases daily. As of Monday, a total of 109,422 infections and 6,380 deaths have been reported in Egypt since the outbreak began in February.
Egypt targets cutting the public budget deficit to 7.5 percent in the current fiscal year, compared to 7.9 percent in the last year, Minister Maait pointed out. He also predicted a growth rate of 3.3 percent in the current fiscal year's GDP.
Maait added that the inflation rate recorded recently is among the lowest in the country's history, hailing the economic reform program Egypt adopted over the past few years.
In November 2016, Egypt commenced its economic reform journey backed by the International Monetary Fund’s support.
The tough reforms, which have strained the budgets of millions of Egyptians, include a sharp currency devaluation, deep cuts in energy subsidies and the introduction of a value-added tax.