Parliament to set 'social raise,' says finance minister

Yasmine Saleh
3 Min Read

CAIRO: Public sector employees will receive an 11 percent raise this year, said Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, adding that it will be up to the People’s Assembly to decide on the annual “social pay raise.

Last year, President Hosni Mubarak announced a 30 percent social raise for public sector employees.

Momtaz Al-Saeed, deputy minister of finance, had said last week that this year’s social raise should be 5 percent.

Speaking at the People’s Assembly on Sunday, Ghali said parliament will have the final say on the raise, adding that anything over 5 percent would take away from government investments that include vital services’ projects.

With the global financial crisis, and decreasing state revenue, the government does not have sufficient funds to offer a higher pay increase.

Ghali also presented the annual state budget for fiscal year 2009/10.

If the economic situation does not worsen, domestic debt will reach 45 percent of GDP in two years, compared to the current level of 65 percent.

He also said that the decline in oil and food prices has saved the government LE 35 billion, which will be allocated to subsidies.

Speaking to Daily News Egypt, Gamal Zahran, independent PA member, claimed that Ghali said Egypt will decrease subsidies by 60 percent, from LE 100 billion to LE 40 billion.

“How can the government decide to make this huge cut in the amount of subsidies and in the same time claim it does not have funds to increase salaries? Zahran asked.

Zahran also accused the government “of taking a wrong decision to cut from its national projects in order to increase salaries.

However, Mohamed Khalil Kwaitah, PA member affiliated with the National Democratic Party (NDP), said the government’s decision to decrease the social raise this year was sound given the impact of global financial turmoil on the local economy.

On the other hand, Zahran said it is the government’s responsibility to raise employees’ salaries, adding that the government should fulfill these responsibilities without making citizens “feel like they are begging.

Last week, Muslim Brotherhood MP Hamdy Hassan said, “The government should not have to choose between either increasing salaries or creating more job opportunities because it is obliged to do both, as promised by President Hosni Mubarak in his 2005 presidential campaign.

“The decision is unfair and shows that the government doesn’t feel the sufferings of the people, especially that there are few government employees who are paid millions while the majority gets nothing, Hassan said.

Zahran said he filed a draft law to the PA proposing that minimum wage be set at LE 1,200 for public sector employees, with a maximum of LE 12,000 “in order to achieve social justice among all citizens.

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