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Time to reward people’s patience

Thu, July 05, 2018 08:58

 

By the Gazette Editorial Board

While presenting the government's plan of action for the next four years, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli promised that most Egyptians would benefit from the fruits of reform in the next two years. He said the government was committed to the poor and because of that, it would expand the social protection network to make sure that no one had to beg for a living.

 

While presenting the government's plan of action for the next four years, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli promised that most Egyptians would benefit from the fruits of reform in the next two years. He said the government was committed to the poor and because of that, it would expand the social protection network to make sure that no one had to beg for a living.

 

Dr Madbouli, who was part of the economic reform policy launched by the former government of Sherif Ismail, does realise the significance and effect of the promises he made this week on behalf of his government, not only to gain a vote of confidence from parliament but also to reassure the public, at a time when the cost of supplies and services, including electricity, fuel and transport, has increased.

 

The Egyptians have wisely borne the harsh austerity measures imposed by the economic reform, with patience.

 

They have put up with the bitter consequences of the devaluation of the local currency that was accompanied by a tsunami of increases in the price of various commodities and services.  Now that subsidies on various services and utilities have been reduced even more, people are in dire need of reassurance from the government, about the future. 

 

To overcome the present hardship, the Egyptians need a good rise in their income and a cut in the taxes they have to pay on their limited salaries; but not only that, they also need to feel a real improvement in basic services, such as education and health.

 

Even before the new government was sworn in, President Sisi was keen to announce new allowances would be paid out to state employees and pensioners at the start of the new fiscal year. Yet, people knew that any rise in income would be eaten up by the expected rise in the prices of commodities, such as the recent increase in the price of fuel.

 

Thus, Madbouli's government should focus at this stage on improving the services being offered to citizens especially in the health and education sectors, and on not adding to the burdens they have to shoulder.  

 

Poor and middle-class people would really feel the benefits of reform if their children were given a good free education and health service.

 

This is something the government could achieve if it allocated the new increase in the budget to improving the quality of education in government schools and to enforcing the new health insurance law that was recently endorsed by parliament.

 

But first, the infrastructure of the health and education institutions needs to be improved. The medical staff and the teachers should be given good training and good salaries to help them live a dignified life; that is the only way to guarantee a rapid and thorough implementation of the new reform programmes prepared for these two basic services.

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