Egyptian parliamentarian Mona Makram Ebeid met with a number of International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials during a recent trip to Washington D.C., during which she discussed new developments within Egypt and reinforced the country’s desire to complete its transition towards democracy.
IMF officials reinforced the need to encourage the growth of a strong new Egyptian economy rooted in the private sector, and build on competition instead of favouritism.
In statements made to the Middle East News Agency (MENA), Ebeid stated that building a new economy would require providing funding for small and mid-sized development projects and removing any obstacles faced by those seeking to establish new businesses. She further called for the freeing up of trade laws and investment infrastructure, encouraging youth development projects, achieving transparency with regards to the country’s budget and investing in health and education, ending with the need to spur domestic investment in order to encourage foreigners to feel confident about putting their money back into the country.
IMF officials reportedly welcomed recent aid packages provided to Egypt from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
Ebeid stated that IMF officials supported the notion of gradually weaning Egypt’s budget off of subsidies by way of aid packages received from Gulf countries, until the country’s economic indicators improve and citizens are able to bear the various costs of the market. Such moves, she said, would provide Egypt with the chance to implement structural market reforms, free up the labour market and work to provide job opportunities for the unemployed and the nation’s youth.
She relayed the feelings of a number of IMF officials who were reported to have said: “if Saudi Arabia is ready to fund the cost of Egyptian budget subsidies for a period of up to several years then now is the right time to do so. Such moves on the part of the Gulf countries will help Egypt to implement the kind of real economic structural reform needed to repair the economy.”
Ebeid further expressed her conviction that Egypt was not in a position at the moment to remove or cancel its subsidies program due to the current social and political polarisation, stating: “how can Egypt possibly decrease its subsidies program now, in the midst of such extremely exceptional circumstances?”