Cairo – Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on Egyptians to be more patient in a reference to the difficult economic conditions in the country.
Sisi said on Sunday that the state is “in a race against time” to provide citizens with essential consumer goods at affordable prices, citing difficulties due to the increasing rates of consumption.
The president made the comments during an event in Qena to inaugurate a set of infrastructure development projects in Upper Egypt.
In his speech, Sisi referred to a range of measures linked to economic reforms that are intended to fix problems in the economy and bring consumer prices under control, while ensuring that the supply of goods keeps pace with demand.
He said that the economic reform program, which was launched in 2014, is necessary to ensure the Egyptian currency settles at its true value relative to the nation’s economy.
Among the key reforms introduced was the floatation of the pound in November 2016, a move that he said was essential to improving the economy.
“The state used to subsidize the value of the Egyptian pound and that was a very dangerous economic situation that got us into a lot of trouble,” Sisi said.
When the fiscal reforms, including fuel subsidy cuts and a range of new taxes, were introduced, they were described as necessary to ease a growing budget deficit. However, they resulted in price increases, hitting the nation’s poor particularly hard.
Sisi said on Sunday that ordinary citizens should be provided with a full set of figures on the economy, allowing them to keep abreast of developments.
However, he stated that consumer prices, which have risen significantly in recent months, are still cheaper than in most countries around the world, adding that “the building of nations is not an easy process; there are burdens that citizens must bear.”
The Egyptian President also addressed the challenges facing the nation in the area of agriculture and food security, since problems with supply have contributed to rising food prices.
“We produce between 8 and 10 million tons of grain and import another 10 million, while we consume a total of 18 tons annually.
Here we are not talking about an increase in demand due to the increase in population, but we are basically talking about a steep increase in our consumption,” he said.
On the other hand, because people in Egypt have used state land for personal purposes for many years for all sorts of reasons, there is no official statistics to show how much land is actually involved.
Therefore, Sisi has ordered the Egyptian army to retake state land used illegally by thousands of Egyptians as the move must be completed by the end of this month.
“No one should take something not meant for him,” Sisi announced. “Millions of Egyptians do not find anything to eat, while others use tens of thousands of acres. I swear to Allah that all acres will be retaken.”
He added that the state is ready to sell the land which is being used for significant projects.