Increased spending on education, health reprioritises public spending: Minister of Finance

Adel M. Fakhry
5 Min Read

Government spending on education has increased by 57.1% and health by 87.3% over the past five years along with a reduction in energy subsidisation. According to Minister of Finance Amr El-Garhy, this reflects Egypt’s ability to reprioritise public spending to guarantee that the country’s resources are used efficiently for the benefit of the average citizen.

This is also reflective of the many accomplishments by Egypt, such as an increase in the funds allocated to social programmes to EGP 417bn, which represents 36% of public spending for the current fiscal year, the minister said.

Government spending on bread and essential goods reached EGP 41.1bn this year, representing an increase of 7.9% over the last fiscal year, he added.

This information was revealed in a speech delivered on behalf of the minister by deputy minister for financial policies and institutional development Ahmed Kojak at the third community dialogue initiative on 22 September. This dialogue is held under the theme “It is your right to know your country’s budget”, according to the finance ministry’s press release.

El-Garhy said that the state is committed to social justice and social security programmes by expanding the Karama and Takaful programmes, which are one of Egypt’s cash support programmes.

In this fiscal year, the government is currently working to increase the number of beneficiaries to reach 1 million beneficiaries in the poorest villages in Upper Egypt, starting with Aswan, Qena, and Luxor, he said.

El-Garhy explained that so far, 800,000 families have been registered to the programme; the Karama and Takaful programmes’ credits amount to EGP 4.1bn as of now.

Another cash support programme is the social security pensions programme that 1.5 million underprivileged families benefits from—EGP 7.1bn has been allocated for this programme so far, Garhy said.

Additionally, 125,000 housing units were provided for low-income citizens with a total of 500,000 citizens housed thanks to this project, El-Garhy said. The completion rates of the metro project has increased capacities for an additional 9 million riders to be served, the minister added.

Garhy said that the budget allocated for fiscal year 2016 was focused on implementing a complete economic programme to achieve sustainable development. The programme’s pillars are development, employment, and social security by applying reform procedures that help to achieve financial and economic stability.

A balanced programme should be attentive to social dimensions, work to increase production rates in industrial and export sectors, and increase employment opportunities to improve the standard of living for citizens while utilising the country’s resources, he said.

This is to achieve a surge in the level of basic public services provided to citizens, whether they are included in social security programmes or not, Garhy said, while giving special care to investment in human development in the sectors of education and health.

Kojak said that it is important for the public to view financial data on the ministry’s website according to the detailed division of functions instead of the currently in-use economic division.

Kojak also discussed several underway projects in the health and education sectors, such as a new tropical medicine research institute in Cairo, improvements for Al-Azhar University Hospital, and projects in Giza, Alexandria, Matruh, Assiut, New Assiut, Qaliubiya, Beheira, Minya, and New Valley as well.

Explaining the benefits of such reforms, Kojak said that they will improve the standard of living for citizens by reducing the budget deficit, controlling inflation so as to be able to offer more jobs, and increase investment in infrastructure and the main services provided to citizens, while also improving citizens’ production capacity by spending more on human development.

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