Former finance minister: New budget will not meet growth demands

Former Finance Minister Samir Radwan sharply criticized Egypt’s 2012/13 budget, which came into force two days ago. It fails to respond to the demands of growth or to accommodate the Renaissance Project President Mohamed Morsy has adopted as his economic platform, Radwan claimed.

During a conference on trade and development support on Tuesday, Radwan said the current budget is hindered by a funding gap, and will fail to achieve the government’s growth target of 4-4.5 percent.

Radwan said Egypt is going through unprecedented political change, and stressed the necessity of defining economic goals and identifying funding sources. He added that systematic corruption in Egypt has virtually been “legalized.”

Finance Minister Momtaz al-Saeed said Sunday that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has endorsed the state budget, as well as new laws governing economic and social development plans. The budget took effect the same day.

The minister also said on Monday that the state budget will bear the LE3.5 billion cost of Social Security for government employees and for both civilian and military pensions.

He added that government spending and petroleum product subsidies would be cut by LE25 billion, but would not affect low-income brackets. He denied the possibility of raising fuel prices or imposing new taxes.

The new budget was labeled as “catastrophic” by Mohamed Gouda, a member of the Freedom and Justice Party’s economic committee. He argued that it had been approved to drive Morsy to failure.

Gouda explained that in order to be implemented some articles of the budget will require certain measures, such as receiving grants and cutting down energy subsidies.

“We at the FJP will demand Morsy to reconsider the budget until a new government is appointed, so as not to stymie the new cabinet in its bid to realize its objectives,” Gouda said.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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