Easing economic burdens to improve living conditions

Nahla Abul-Ezz, Friday 28 Jan 2022

A host of presidential decisions have been issued to alleviate many economic burdens, prime among them increasing the minimum wage and hiring more teachers.

Budget allocations for wages of state employees will reach LE400 billion, up from LE355 billion in t
Budget allocations for wages of state employees will reach LE400 billion, up from LE355 billion in the current budget

In a bid to improve the living conditions of many Egyptian people, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has taken decisions relating to increasing incomes that will be included in the new budget that starts on 1 July.

The decisions will cost an additional LE45 billion, rendering the section of the budget dedicated to paying state employees to stand at LE400 billion, up from LE355 billion in the current budget, said Mohamed Maait, the minister of finance.

The decisions include raising the minimum wage from LE2,400 to LE2,700 per month, giving civil servants an annual raise of seven per cent and other public-sector workers a 13 per cent increase on their basic salary, and adding unspecified additional bonuses to the pay of all public-sector employees to the tune of LE18 billion.

An additional 30,000 teachers will be hired annually for the next five years in parallel with increasing total bonuses for teachers to LE3.1 billion.

Maait said there were no plans to increase taxes until early July, explaining that the new decisions would benefit five million workers. He added that the annual raise for civil servants would cost LE8 billion, while the total cost of bonuses in the new budget stood at LE18 billion.

This is the third time that the minimum wage for public-sector workers has been increased since 2014. It increased to LE2,400 last July from LE2,000 in 2019-2020.

The 2022-23 budget will see more spending meant to improve people’s lives and provide a better standard of living, Maait said, with the priority being given to programmes in the fields of healthcare and education, two key pillars of better living standards and enhancing investment in human capital.

The raises also aim to maximise development efforts in different fields and expand public investment to raise the quality of basic services through Egypt’s Decent Life initiative to develop the countryside and thus improve the lives of 60 per cent of Egyptians, Maait said.

The initiative will enable people to benefit from Egypt’s economic reforms in a comprehensive, fair, and sustainable manner, he added, generating more job opportunities and expanding the social protection network to target the most impoverished brackets.

As of 1 July, bonuses for faculty members, assistants, and full-time professors will be increased from LE1,500 to LE2,050 for teachers, from LE1,750 to LE2,100 for assistants, from LE2,000 to LE2,250 for lecturers, from LE2,500 to LE2,700 for assistant lecturers, and from LE3,000 to LE3,100 for professors.

The total annual cost of this increase is LE500 million.

Some LE1 billion will be allocated to finance the new law on the salaries of full-time professors in universities, centres, institutes and research bodies, which grant tenured faculty members a bonus equivalent to the full wage of their appointed counterparts.

Final year medical students in university hospitals affiliated to the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Al-Azhar University Hospitals will receive raises of LE2,200, LE2,000, and LE2,000 for students of the dentistry, physiotherapy, and nursing faculties, respectively.

Maait added that LE1.8 billion has been earmarked for hiring 30,000 new doctors and nurses annually.

Mustafa Salem, deputy head of the Planning and Budget Committee in the House of Representatives, the lower house of Egypt’s parliament, said the new decisions were the first step to solving the shortage of teachers and academics and improving their living conditions.

Increasing the minimum wage comes at a convenient time, due to inflation and rising prices, he added.

Alia Al-Mahdy, a professor of economics at Cairo University, said the new decisions followed on the heels of various economic problems, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said that the decisions regarding bridging the gap in teachers’ wages would be particularly important.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 January, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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