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Sisi: Egyptians would "very soon" be able to purchase US dollars at a unified rate. Photo: EPA

Sisi warns of harsh and tough measures to fix economy

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned citizens on Monday that tough measures would be needed to turn the country’s ailing economy around as the government negotiates a $12 billion loan programme with the International Monetary Fund.

In a bid to prepare public opinion for a series of measures that will include subsidy cuts, tax reforms, and privatisations of state-owned companies, Sisi told Egyptians the government needed their support to weather the storm.

“The problem is whether public opinion is prepared to accept the measures which could be tough or harsh,” he told youth participating in a leadership conference.

“Egyptians love their country and are able to face hardship but they are too busy with their daily lives and thus must be afforded the correct information regarding the measures.”

Egypt said last week it was seeking $4 billion a year over three years from the IMF to help plug a funding gap. The government hopes to finalise the deal in August.

The government has been at pains to avoid public backlash by showing that reforms are home-grown and not imposed from abroad.

Import-dependant Egypt has faced a dollar shortage since a 2011 uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule but scared off tourists and foreign investors, key sources of hard currency.

Sisi said Egyptians would “very soon” be able to purchase US dollars at a unified rate.

“The next few days will see a lot of good news for the Egyptian people.”

The more-than-40 percent gap between the official and black market exchange rates has narrowed since the loan was announced. – Reuters

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