Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala El-Said reviewed, on Monday, a parliamentary report on the draft economic and social development plan for fiscal year (FY) 2021/22.
The report was prepared by the Egyptian House of Representatives’ planning and budget committee and covers FY 2021/22, the fourth year of the medium-term sustainable development plan.
El-Said referred to the efforts made by her ministry and the Egyptian government in the past few years to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development.
These efforts come in light of the ministry’s utmost importance to directing the investment plan towards the priorities of the state’s work to improve the quality of life for citizens.
The development efforts also included targeting the neediest villages, and reducing development gaps between the governorates. The total public investments amounted to EGP 2.4trn in the last five years, covering FY 2016/17 to FY 2020/21, with an increased rate of 275% compared to the previous five years.
The minister said that the total investments being implemented in FY 2020/21 amounted to EGP 826.8bn Egyptian, of which EGP 637bn are public investments, representing 77% of the total.
She added that the per capita share of public investments has developed in recent years, reaching about EGP 6,142 during FY 2020/21, an increase of 25% over the previous year. It is estimated that the per capita share will reach EGP 8,828 next year, an increase of 45% compared to the current year.
El-Said said that the development efforts to implement the FY 2020/21 plan came under exceptional and unprecedented circumstances, due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The minister also noted the importance of many areas that represent urgent priorities for most countries of the world, such as healthcare and social protection, education, and digital transformation.
She said that the state has been keen to intensify public investments in these areas, and implement many development programmes and initiatives that improve the quality of life for the Egyptian citizen.
Foremost among these are: the “Decent Life” initiative; doubling intensive care beds and ambulance points; reducing the crowding in classrooms; and linking the outputs of technical education to the labour market through polytechnics and technology universities.
El-Said highlighted the special importance of the “Decent Life” initiative or the national project for the development of the Egyptian countryside. The first phase of the initiative was launched in January 2019, and targeted 375 villages.
The initiative has contributed to reducing poverty rates in some villages by 11%, and resulted in an improvement in the rate of access to basic services by about 50% in some villages. It has also contributed to alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of 4.5 million citizens.
The success of the “Decent Life” initiative culminated in Egypt’s recent inclusion by the United Nations (UN) within the “SDGs Good Practices”.
El-Said added that to complement the success achieved in the first phase, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has directed for the initiative’s expansion.
The second phase of the initiative was launched as part of the national project for the development of the Egyptian countryside, targeting all villages across Egypt. This aims to target a total of 4,584 villages where more than half of Egypt’s population lives.
This will ensure that the villages are transformed into sustainable rural communities that meet all development needs within three years.
The total cost of the second phase exceeds EGP 700bn, which enhances the state’s efforts to localise sustainable development goals and achieve balanced regional development, which is one of the main pillars of Egypt’s Vision 2030.
El-Said added that the government has also worked to intensify efforts to localise sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the governorates, and to maximise the relative advantages of all governorates.
This would additionally set an indicator to determine the comparative advantage of each governorate, and to give precedence in financing public investments to priority sectors according to the development gaps in each governorate.
The minister stressed that efforts to increase public investments and implement these programmes and initiatives have played a catalytic role in advancing economic growth.
Upward growth rates have been achieved in the past five years, reaching 5.6% in the first half (H1) of FY 2019/20, before the impact of the global health crisis which negatively affected world economies.
“Despite the crisis, the Egyptian economy achieved a growth rate of 3.6% during FY 2019/20, as Egypt came among a limited number of countries in the world that achieved positive growth in light of the pandemic,” El-Said said.
The minister pointed out that among the positive indicators of economic performance, the achieved growth rates are coupled with low unemployment rates, which fell despite the pandemic to 7.4% in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021.
This was compared to 7.5% in the corresponding quarter of the previous year, while the annual unemployment rate decreased from 13% in 2014 to 7.9% in 2019.
The inflation rate also declined to 4.4% in April 2021 on an annual basis and 1.2% monthly, its lowest level in 14 years, which confirms the strength of the Egyptian economy and its ability to face crises.