Prime Minister Sherif Ismail announced the details of the long-awaited government cabinet programme on Sunday which aims to lower the budget deficit and the inflation rate. The programme will be presented before the parliament two weeks from now.
During a meeting between Ismail and the parliament members of the Qaliubiya governorate, the prime minister said that the government is aiming to lower the deficit from 11.5% to 8% and the inflation ratio from 11.5% to 9%, according to a statement from the ministry.
The meeting, attended by Minister of Local Development Ahmed Zaki Badr and Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Magdy Al-Agati, came within a series of meetings between the prime minister and parliament members to consult with them about the government’s programme as the parliament will be expected to vote on renewing trust in the cabinet on 27 March.
It is expected that there will be a minor change in the cabinet following the presentation of the programme before the parliament. However, in conversations Daily News Egypt conducted with members of parliament, there is an emerging consensus inside the legislative house in favour of accepting the government’s programme, especially following praise from the president on the government’s work in a speech last month.
Over the past week, the prime minister met with the majority of the parliament’s members, in an attempt to win their acceptance of the programme before its presentation.
In the meeting, Ismail revealed for the first time the details of the programme, entitled ‘Beginning and Hope’ and divided into three parts. The first part is entitled ‘challenges’ pertains to national security inside and outside of Egypt, the increase in population, the increase in unemployment rate, and the decrease of the quality of government services, according to Ismail.
The second part, entitled ‘goals and vision’, provides a framework to lower the budget deficit and inflation rate, to raise the growth rate to 6% within two fiscal years, and to develop a mechanism for tax commutation.
Ismail also said that Beginning and Hope includes expansion of the Takafol and Karama programmes, governmental initiatives launched by the Ministry of Social Solidarity to address poverty in governorates across Egypt, in an effort to reach 1.5 million beneficiaries.
The prime minister commented on the recent increase in value of the US dollar against the Egyptian pound saying that the state is working on easing the issue through the introduction of a programme that will support exports, ration “the imports bill,” exert efforts to restore the normal rate of tourism in Egypt, and take procedures to increase the remittances of Egyptians abroad.
Ismail also commented on the government’s decision to lower the price of natural gas for iron and steel factories, saying that the decision was made to raise factories’ production capacity from 20% to full capacity which he said will save $1.5m annually in steel imports. However, Ismail stated that the decision will last for a year with quarterly revisions.
Ismail refuted the claim that the government is “selling public sector [companies],” explaining that there is a plan to reform national companies and to list a number of them in the stock market.