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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Sisi raises food subsidy allowances to EGP 50 from EGP 21 alongside handful of social safety measures

El Sisi signs off on measures to strengthen social safety net: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi announced a handful of measures yesterday designed to strengthen the social safety net and shield the poor from inflation as the government pursues further economic reforms. As sources had predicted last week, food subsidy allowances will rise to a monthly EGP 50 from EGP 21 starting 1 July for Egypt’s c.70 mn subsidy card holders, El Sisi said in a speech (watch, runtime: 26:32). This 140% increase will see the line item cost state coffers EGP 85 bn, up from EGP 45 bn in last year’s budget. El Sisi announced other measures yesterday — some of which were okayed by parliament this week — including:

  • The 15% increase in state pensions at a cost of around EGP 190 bn;
  • An EGP 100 increase in monthly allowances under the Takaful and Karama cash subsidy programs at a cost of EGP 8.25 bn to the state;
  • A three-year tax freeze on property tithes on agricultural land;
  • The 7% annual raise and 7% hardship raise for state bureaucrats under the Civil Service Act and the corresponding 10% raise for bureaucrats not covered by the act;
  • Progressive income tax breaks for private citizens, particularly those in lower income brackets.

Meanwhile, the ministers of planning, finance, and manpower will be holding meetings to discuss increases to minimum wages for the three months following the start of the new fiscal year, according to a release picked up by AMAY says. And in its latest Nasserist PR stunt, the commie-capitalist oxymoron that is the Union of Egyptian Investors Associations says it is in talks with Manpower Minister Mohamed Saafan on an initiative that would give private sector employees a 10% bump on their base salary, Al Mal reports.

President El Sisi’s speech had started by addressing the two elephants in the room — and in the Red Sea. He said that he respected people’s opposing viewpoints on a treaty that would see Egypt hand Tiran and Sanafir islands over to Saudi Arabia, but that his administration is bound by law to give them back.

El Sisi’s statements came as the Administrative Court issued a ruling on Tuesday stating that the Court of Urgent Matters lacked the jurisdiction to overturn its verdict nullifying the Tiran and Sanafir agreement, according to AMAY. The suit was filed by opposition lawyer Khaled Ali. The House of Representatives ratified the agreement last week, spurring a backlash. Over 100 MPs had signed a request asking El Sisi to wait for the final verdict on the matter from the Supreme Constitutional Court before signing off on the agreement. The State Lawsuits Authority (which represents the government in the case) has reportedly asked the Constitutional Court to use its legal right to strike down both the Administrative and Urgent Matters courts’ contradicting verdicts, sources tell Al Shorouk.

El Sisi then discussed the ongoing blockade of Qatar (without ever saying the country’s name), suggesting that a certain state’s sponsorship of terror had forced Egypt to take drastic action.

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