Israel newspaper accuses Sisi of wasting billions while Egyptians starve – Middle East Monitor


The President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, has wasted large sums of money at a time when Egyptians are hungry, according to an analysis made by Israel. Haaretz a newspaper. The newspaper said: “Egypt needs a quick and massive influx of dollars, and it wants to enlist investors – who are in no rush to come, and not just because of the monetary uncertainty.”

The IS Haaretz the analysis stated: “Sisi can legitimately claim that he and his government are not to blame for the global crisis affecting the Egyptian economy, but when he orders huge sums for extraordinary projects such as the new administrative capital, which have an estimated cost of $85. billion, or to expand the electrification of the trains and the subway at the cost of billions of dollars – it is not surprising that investors and financial institutions are skeptical and worried that Egypt will not be able to pay its debt, which is about to reach 95. percent of its gross domestic product.”

He noted that the dish koshary, a mixture of rice, pasta, fried onions, garlic and lentils, has always been the food of poor, hardworking workers and students, but koshary has become a luxury recently as its price has increased by three.

After Al-Sisi asked Egyptians to boycott foods that had become too expensive, he justified the difficult situation by saying that his government was not responsible for the economic crisis. Instead, he pointed out that it was a “global crisis”, referring to the war in Ukraine, adding: “The Egyptian people have the awareness to bear these conditions.”

The exorbitant price of fish has also come into play, as the mill price of a kilogram has reached 110 pounds (about $3.50), and the Ministry of Agriculture says the country’s fish production covers 85 percent of domestic consumption.

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Egypt is the largest fishing country in Africa, but it also imports fish from Russia, which has raised the price of this staple food.

It’s not just the fish that’s expensive; there is a poultry crisis even after the rise in imported feed prices. To solve the crisis, Egypt imported a large amount of frozen poultry from Brazil before Ramadan.

However, according to reports in the Egyptian media, the government has transferred the license to import the poultry to an agent connected to the military and the goods will be sold at a reduced price in arms stores. This means they pay no customs fees on it, while private sector importers pay around 30 percent in fees, making it unfair competition.

In Egyptian ports, ships are waiting to be unloaded, but the goods cannot be released from customs due to reduced foreign currency allocations for private importers, a shortage of dollars and a significant reduction in the central bank’s foreign currency reserves. This shortage also severely damages the importation of drugs and medical equipment for hospitals.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Health said The Washington Post in an interview that only half of the medical clinics have the right equipment: “The health service crisis is not new, and it also stems from a severe shortage of doctors. Official figures show that more than 4,300 doctors in the public sector applied last year quit, and around 11,500 doctors retire from 2019 to 2022.”

According to the newspaper, the salaries of doctors in the public health sector are between 2,000 and 4,000 Egyptian pounds per month, but when translated into dollar terms, it is equivalent to $150 to $200 per month, which is just above the minimum wage.

Many doctors emigrated from Egypt, as wages in private hospitals fell after one dollar was valued at more than 30 Egyptian pounds – 15 Egyptian pounds a year ago.

International banks expect the exchange rate of the Egyptian pound to reach 35 against the dollar by the end of this month.

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The IS Haaretz The analysis stated: “The war in Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic certainly dealt a huge blow to the Egyptian economy. The budget deficit increased due to the need to allocate more funds to the purchase of grain, which increased price on world markets; the national debt grew accordingly, and the fall in the dollar was the final seal Egypt had to borrow $3 billion from the International Monetary Fund, relying on about $13 billion sent by the Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deposited in Egyptian banks last year, and government issued bonds at attractive interest rates to pay for regular government functions.”

Last January, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammad Al-Jadaan revealed that the Kingdom is changing its approach in the way it provides aid to its allies and is encouraging countries in the region to make economic reforms.

Al-Jadaan added, speaking on the sidelines at the World Economic Forum conference in Davos: “We used to give direct grants and deposits without ‘strings attached’, and we are that changes when we work with truly multilateral institutions. say we want to see reforms.”

Although only a third of its population lives in poverty, the Egyptian government may still implement the demands of the International Monetary Fund, as follows: “It would mean another deep reduction in subsidies for basic consumer goods and an increase in poverty – with hope that the economic reforms would have positive results within four or five years.”

The analysis says: “Egypt needs a quick and massive inflow of dollars, and it wants to enlist investors – who are in no rush to come, and not just because of the monetary uncertainty. Anyone who was willing to buy government companies, for example Saudi Arabia, for example, who showed interest in buying a large share of one of the most important banks in Egypt, has had to deal with the convoluted bureaucracy, or an insurmountable obstacle in the form of the army, which controls a huge share of the civilian economy. through the civil companies it owns – and the priority it gets for completing projects. This is also the reason why Egypt has so far failed to privatize most of the companies it wanted to make available in the free market.”

For the 9th time, Egypt has announced that it plans to privatize 32 state companies, including those owned by the military, by 2024.

However, at the same time, the government gives military advantages and exemptions from import duties which eliminate any basis of competition.

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