Egypt’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait discussed, on Tuesday, a recent study conducted by the World Bank on Egypt’s public spending for social protection during fiscal year (FY) 2019/20.
He added that EGP 3.9bn was allocated to support social housing projects during FY 2019/20, pointing out that the current budget includes EGP 321bn for social protection, of which EGP 7.8bn went to cash support and public facilities in social housing projects.
Maait further added that approximately EGP 345bn has been transferred to pension funds in 25 months.
The government continued to strengthen social protection networks through more effective programmes targeting the most in need, and raising the efficiency of public spending in a way that leads to reducing poverty rates and providing a decent life for Egyptians, he stated.
Maait noted that the success of the economic reform programme has helped the government to expand social protection programmes, which was affirmed by the World Bank study. The reform programme helped restructuring public spending, maximizing revenues, and enhancing spending in the areas of social protection, health, and education.
He pointed out that the cash assistance programme “Takaful and Karama” and Social Security Pension adopted by the government succeeded in achieving their goals, according to World Bank estimates, especially as the government continues to expand the coverage of the two programs to include all low-income families.
He added that 86% of the beneficiaries of the Takaful and Karama programme during FY 2019/20 were among the poorest 40% of the population. This reflects the importance of the government’s keenness to automate the entire cash support system, and to establish a database that includes poor families to ensure access to those who are eligible.
He pointed out that the volume of spending on social protection programmes during FY 2019/20 amounted to 4.2% of GDP, which confirms the government’s keenness to expand anti-poverty programs and provide an advanced and comprehensive system for the social safety net, in accordance with Egypt’s 2030 Vision.
He added that the World Bank’s estimates indicated that cash assistance and social security pension contributed to reducing poverty rates by 5.2% during FY 2019/20.
Maait pointed out that the government also took into account the social dimension in its strategy to address the coronavirus pandemic and mitigate its repercussions. The volume of spending on the food subsidy programme during FY 2019/20 amounted to about 1.4% of GDP, and that more than 1.5 million irregular labourers received additional cash support of EGP 500 per month for a period of 6 months during the pandemic.
Moreover, Mai Farid, Head of the Economic Justice Unit at the Ministry of Finance, stressed that the government attaches great importance to strengthening social protection programmes and raising the efficiency of public spending on the health and education sectors, in a way that ensures the efficiency of public expenditures, reducing poverty rates, and providing protection for the marginalized and lower-income classes.
She added that the Ministry of Finance has cooperated with the World Bank team since December 2020 to prepare a study aimed at reviewing public spending for the social protection sector, health, and education.