Poor Families in Egypt (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian authorities are outlining a cash transfer programme which will target between 2 to 3 million families nationwide, Finance Minister Ahmed Galal said in a press release on Monday.
The new welfare system, designed to provide financial relief to the neediest segment of society, is an effort to overcome the inefficiencies of the government’s current universal food and fuel subsidies as well as unconditional pensions.
Egypt’s interim government has repeatedly confirmed its intention to start gradually repealing long-standing subsidies, which cost the state the equivalent of 10 percent of the country’s GDP, before the end of its mandate in 2014.
Conditional cash transfer programmes (CCTs) work by holding recipients of government welfare funds accountable to certain financial obligations.
“The conditions are quite simple: for families that want to get cash, they have to mainly take care of their children’s health and education,” finance ministry spokesman Mesbah Qotb told Ahram Online in September.
The beneficiaries of the programme will include 1.4 million families receiving social security pensions that amount to LE300 ($42) in monthly stipends, according to the finance ministry.
The programme will be implemented nationwide within the next three to four years, with rural Upper Egypt under consideration as the first region to be targeted, said Sherine El-Shawarby, assistant to the finance minister for economic justice.
The recipients of the planned cash transfers will also include 2 million of the neediest families registered with the Ministry of Social Solidarity, as well as those registered with the Social Fund for Development, a post-Gulf war initiative specialising in self-employment through microcredit.
The government will also consult the databases of major non-governmental organisations, namely the Egyptian Food Bank, El-Orman, Resala and Misr El-Kheir.
The sums allocated to the programme as a whole or per family were not specified in the finance ministry's statement.