CAIRO: Presidential Candidate Abdel Fatah al-Sisi proposed a 1 trillion EGP development plan entailing restructuring Egypt’s map and expanding governorates around the country, during a Sunday interview on Al-Nahar TV channel, adding that the plan could be implemented within two years if the funds are available.
In the interview with Khaled Salah, Lobna Asal and Wael el-Ebrashy, Sisi said he aims to multiply citizens’ average per capita income by doubling the GDP so that it hits 2.6 trillion EGP.
Sisi called for rationalizing government as well as personal spending in the coming period, an indication of austerity measures he might take, when in power, to revive the limping economy.
“We need to get Egypt out of poverty. It would be absurd to allow our children to inherit this,” He added.
Sisi’s proposed plan is based on restructuring the map of governorates and implementing infrastructure projects for development. The plan aims to increase investment opportunities in governorates, with priority given to Sinai and Upper Egypt; rather than depending only on agriculture and manufacturing as is currently the case in most governorates, Sisi said.
“We are living on 6 percent of Egypt’s territory, and in the population suffers from significant uneven distribution … The Wadi Gedid Governorate represents one-third of Egypt’s lands, yet only 150,000 citizens live there,” he added.
The plan will also focus on making the most of Egypt’s coasts by increasing fish farms, said the frontrunner, who added that it also entails the country’s shift to start focusing on secondary stages of production, especially in the field of minerals, rather than solely relying on imports of manufactured goods and exports of raw materials.
”This will help utilize our resources and provide job opportunities,” he said.
Concerning energy and development projects, Sisi refused to delve into specific details citing “national security concerns” when pressed by his hosts.
Sisi rejected the description of receiving international aid as “begging,” and repeatedly blocked one of the hosts from inquiring into the matter, saying, “No, no, no … Do not say that … no, no, no.”
“States do not beg,” Sisi said, adding that the Marshal Plan saved Europe after the Second World War.
The Marshal Plan, also known as European Recovery Program (ERP), was an American initiative to support Europe to rebuild economies after the war to prevent the spread of Soviet Communism.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have pledged a total of $12 billion in aid to Egypt after the ouster of former Islamist Mohamed Morsi in the wake of the June 30 events.
Sisi also said he had met with a number of businessmen and the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) to generate full awareness of needs.
“Some of the poor are eating food that is in a bad condition … It is shameful for us to allow this to go on,” he added.
Overcoming poverty poses a major challenge to Egypt’s next president, with a limping economy plagued by lack of financial resources from tourism and investments due to political unrest and militant insurgency.
“Egypt failed to overcome the chronic poverty through the subsidy system, which led to a major budget deficit, while the current poverty rate soared to approximately 50 percent of the Egyptian people,” Minister of Planning Ashraf el-Araby said during a May 17 conference organized by the American University in Cairo to discuss the economy.