Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait believes that the Egyptian government has withstood the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by balancing between preserving economic indicators and social protection goals.
The minister’s remarks came during his meeting, on Tuesday, with the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Cairo.
Maait noted that Egypt is set to achieve growth of about 5.4% in the new fiscal year (FY) 2021/22, and aspires to reach a 4% budget deficit within three years.
The minister pointed out that the Egyptian Government worked to implement special policies to confront COVID-19, adding that before the pandemic, the economy was growing significantly.
Whilst the target was to achieve 5.8% rising to more than 6%, it in fact reached 5.6%, with the minister adding that if it were not for the global health crisis, economic growth would have exceeded 5.5%, and about 6.5% in FY 2021/22.
Maait said that the total budget deficit before the coronavirus was 8.2%, which was then going to decline to 7.2%, but after the virus the plan was modified to 7.8%.
He mentioned that there are many reasons for the reduction in economic indicators, chief among them: the decline in revenues; the increase in spending on stimulus packages and public investments in sectors; and support for many sectors that were negatively affected.
“At a time when we were applying the precautionary measures and setting scenarios for dealing with COVID-19, there was a point of view that focus should not be placed on preserving economic indicators,” Maait said, “But I refused and stressed that we should not waste what we have done in terms of harsh and strict economic reform, but that we must be balanced, and to continue to control the budget deficit.”
With regard to foreign investments, Maait said that Egypt ranked first in attracting foreign investments before the pandemic. He noted that international institutions, led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the European Investment Bank (EIB), praised the Egyptian economy’s resilience in facing the pandemic, thanks to Egypt’s economic reforms.