CAIRO: President Hosni Mubarak warned Monday that the unchecked rise of the population would wipe away all the returns of the country s economic growth.
Mubarak s remarks came during a cabinet meeting to address the acute shortages of subsidized bread that have hurt millions of the nation s poor as well as a lack of housing to meet the rising demand.
The unrestricted growth of the population is a national issue that affects the quality of the citizen s life and the nation as well, the president was quoted as saying by his spokesman Suleiman Awwad.
Awwad added that Mubarak stressed the need for more efforts to drop the birth rate in Egypt where the population has tripled since 1952 to 76 million people in 2006, according to the latest census.
During times of economic stress in Egypt, the president has often cited the population growth as a major obstacle to the country s economic development.
According to the Health Ministry, Egypt s birthrate has dropped from 2.8 percent in 1994 to 1.9 percent in 2007, but the population will still exceed 100 million by 2020.
Mubarak told the government to launch a campaign to raise awareness over the problems of a rising population and its negative effects on efforts to provide more drinking water, improving the sewage system and building more hospitals and schools.
The ministers also discussed how to alleviate housing demands by building new towns to absorb the increase in the population and to build more industrial projects to provide jobs for the rising work force. -AP