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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Government hypes up social spending

Cabinet spent the long weekend hyping up social welfare spending ahead of its budget debate in the House after its draft 2017-18 budget ‘leaked’ to the media. The Ismail government spent the long weekend promoting its social welfare spending as it prepares to sell the House of Representatives on its FY2017-18 budget, a draft of which has been sent to the House and subsequently leaked to Al Mal. The budget discussion comes as the nation prepares for both Ramadan and a visit to Egypt by an IMF delegation next month.

Finance Minister Amr El Garhy led the charge, announcing that the budget for social welfare spending (including the Takaful and Karama cash benefit programs) will grow 50% to EGP 15 bn from EGP 10 bn under the current budget. El Garhy said that next fiscal year would see food subsidies spending increase 30%, by far the most interesting item on the budget to the local media. This would primarily come from increasing the allocation of subsidies to smart card holders to EGP 27 per month from EGP 21. Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy also revealed that the ministry is considering giving subsidy card holders a EGP 7 cash handout every month for Ramadan, Al Mal reports.

More goodies are up for grabs: The government is also considering an “exceptional bonus” to state employees, but has not settled on an amount yet, said Deputy Finance Minister Mohamed Maait. He reiterated previous statements that the ministry is working on a new tax code that would offer further tax refunds to low income families, according to the newspaper.

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