Social protection package cost stands at LE72 bn: minister

The cost of the upgraded social protection package in the 2017-2018 state budget stands at LE72 billion, the Ministry of Planning and Administrative Reform announced.

The sum was approved by the Cabinet and the Parliament in the 2017-2018 budget, the Administrative Reform Minister said in a statement on Friday.

The increase in the social protection allocations was financed from the revenues gained from economic reform measures, such as increased energy and electricity prices for the benefit of lower-income classes, according to the statement.

The parliament’s adoption of the plan of economic and social development allows the government to implement programs and projects that focus primarily on infrastructure and human development, especially health services and education.

Hala al-Saeed, Minister of Planning and Administrative Reform, stressed that the government attaches great importance to social protection programs, because it believes that investment in human beings has the highest rate of return on investment.

The economic reform program aims to improve the living conditions of citizens, especially the low-income classes, she added.

The government’s economic reform program focuses on achieving growth rates while protecting at the same time the poor classes whose living conditions would be negatively affected by the reforms, the minister said.

She stressed that the plan focuses on infrastructure investments, human development, and creating more job opportunities, which represent the real social protection of citizens.

The social protection package includes raising subsidies on ration cards from LE21 per person to LE50, an increase equal to 140 percent.

After implementing this increase, the allocations of subsidized goods in the next year’s budget would increase by 90 percent to reach LE85 billion.

The president’s decision to increase pensions by 15 percent to benefit nearly 10 million pensioners and their families raised the pension budget next year to LE190 billion, compared with 41 billion in the budget of 2009-2010, she said.

Out of keenness to support the lower income groups, the government increased the monetary support provided to 1 million and 750,000 subscribers to the “Takaful and Karama” program by LE100 per month, to reach in total LE8.25 billion a year in the 2017-2018 budget.

The wages in the budget of 2017-2018 increased by 14 percent for those addressed by the Civil Service Law, and by 20 percent for those who are not addressed by the law. Thus, the cost of wages for state employees increased by 250 percent in the next fiscal year, compared to 2009-2010.

The social protection package includes raising the limit of tax exemption from LE 6,500 per year to LE 7200, which will cost the state budget about LE 7 billion. The government decided to stop tax on agricultural land for three years to ease the tax burden on the agricultural sector, according to Saeed.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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