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Monday, 16 January 2017

President El Sisi’s interview on the economy

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi spoke about the economy yesterday in his first extended interview of the year with state-owned newspapers. While addressing the investing communities at times in the interview, the president’s intended audience was the average “working man and woman,” whom he thanked for accepting the economic reforms and for whom he expressed sympathy. He promised them that the government will always have their back, saying “we will not allow the greedy to prey on the people.”

On this point, the president outlined what he sees as one of the state’s primary roles in the economy: To provide goods and services to the poor “without being motivated by profit.” The state will ensure that subsidized goods will be available for eligible beneficiaries and monitor prices so they do not get out of control. El Sisi was quick to stress, however, that this does not mean a return of socialism.

Praise for reform program: President El Sisi praised progress on the government’s economic reform agenda, which he described as “crucial” to fixing the “stunted” economy. The president blamed the nation’s longstanding problems on what he called the introduction of a form of unbridled capitalism and an atmosphere that permitted exclusively the seeking profits. That, he said, is what has prompted the introduction of an economic reform agenda. The president also praised the float of the EGP, which he noted had helped attract investment to the country. He included the draft Investment Act as one of the key policies that will strengthen the economy, describing it as a “fundamental shift” in addressing investor’s needs. Ahead of the eurobond roadshow this week, the president said that Egypt has its sovereign debt under control and is measured when seeking loans. El Sisi had this message to investors: You are welcome here, and we will guarantee that your legal and property rights won’t be trampled.

As with most of his interviews on the economy, the president continued to defend the country’s reliance on national projects. He reserved particular praise for the New Administrative Capital and the development of new urban centers as both major sources of revenue for the state and as a means to absorb the population boom. He gave a tally on progress of some of the government’s economic projects including the development of meds and infant formula factories.

On the Armed Forces’ role in the economy, El Sisi told the papers that defense spending from the state budget over the past three years had been next to nothing. The Armed Forces are active in the economy to sustain themselves and minimize their burden on state coffers.

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