Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Saturday that he would not shy from tough economic reforms that previous rulers had avoided, fearing unrest.
Sisi’s comments came after an initial agreement with the International Monetary Fund for $12 billion in financing that hinges on a reform package slashing state spending and the devaluation of the Egyptian pound. Parliament is also expected to pass a law introducing a value added tax to raise state revenues.
Egypt’s economy has been battered by turmoil since the 2011 uprising ousted veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak, ushering in unrest that has driven away tourists and foreign investments.
The country had been rocked by riots in 1977 after president Anwar Sadat said he would end basic subsidies as demanded by the World Bank in return for a loan.
“The people’s reaction caused the state to backtrack, and it has continued to delay (the reforms) till now,” said Sisi, adding that he would not hesitate to take hard decisions.
Sisi took aim at the country’s bloated bureaucracy, saying the state had hired hundreds of thousands of people who were not needed. Paying their salaries, he added, had increased state debts.
The government has already partially cut fuel and electricity subsidies, but the gradual reforms have been limited so far.