‘Population increase is eating up economic reforms’: MP



Fri, 25 May 2018 - 03:51 GMT


Fri, 25 May 2018 - 03:51 GMT

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi speaks during the “Analyzing the Egyptian Political Scene from Youth’s Perspective” session, May 16, 2018 - YouTube/Extra News

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi speaks during the “Analyzing the Egyptian Political Scene from Youth’s Perspective” session, May 16, 2018 - YouTube/Extra News

CAIRO – 25 May 2018: MP Mahmoud Shaalan has emphasized that the government needs to develop a plan to deal with the increase in population which is “eating up the economic reforms” that cannot be avoided.

In statements to Youm7, the parliamentarian has said that the Ministry of Social Solidarity’s efforts to raise awareness on the topic of family planning, by changing how tuk tuks look and sticking posters on them is considered a direct part of the direct campaign to face the increase in population.

The member of the Agricultural and Irrigation Committee in the Parliament has noted that the government must use all guidance means possible to deliver the messages concerning family planning, whether they are advertorial, text messages, or by having representatives knock doors to guide families in towns and villages on the matter.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has previously also noted that the rapid increase in population is also affecting the economic reforms, and are slowing them down. During the “Ask the President” session that was held during the National Youth Conference on May 16, the president reiterated that a country with a population of one or two million citizens has at least eight times the national budget that Egypt does.

Launching a Family Planning Program

The Ministry of Health and Population, headed by Minister Ahmed Emad El-Din Rady, launched a new program on May 10 for family planning in Egypt in cooperation with USAID to respond to Egypt’s rapid population growth. 

The program aims to improve citizens’ health behavior and support the quality of family planning services and reproductive health, Soaad Abdel Megid, head of the Population and Family Planning Sector, said. 

She added that an electronic program will be established to register the beneficiaries of the program, implement a distance learning model, design a family planning and reproductive health curriculum in the medical and nursing schools, and involve the private and public sectors in providing the service. 

USAID will provide technical assistance and training to the Ministry of Health and Population to strengthen its Family Planning and Reproductive Health Program. Activities will help increase demand for family planning services and enhance the quality of services, aiming to improve contraceptive use and reduce fertility over time. The 5-year, $19 million program will be implemented in nine governorates in Upper Egypt and areas of Cairo and Alexandria, the U.S. embassy in Cairo stated on Saturday. 

“We know that USAID family planning programs have made tremendous impact in the past. We stand poised again to be a part of the solution to the rapid growth in Egypt’s fertility rate,” USAID Egypt Mission Director Sherry Carlin said at the program launch. 

Egypt’s Family Planning Program (SEFPP), a five-year, USAID-funded activity, in cooperation with the U.S. John Snow Research and Training Institute, aims to create sustainable solutions that will help address Egypt’s growing population by increasing the use of family planning methods and promoting healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies. Project implementation is focused on the nine governorates of Upper Egypt and the slums of Cairo and Alexandria. 

For nearly 40 years, USAID has worked with Egypt on projects related to healthy behaviors, family planning, nutrition, immunization and disease prevention activities. 

Egyptian Population hits 104.2M 

The Egyptian population hit 104.27 million both domestically and abroad, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics’ (CAPMAS) latest census in 2017. Those living inside the country amount to 94.8 million, while expats are estimated to at 9 million, according to statistics from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

The statistics spotlighted the government’s concerns on issues of economic growth, unemployment rates and family planning programs. 

Egypt needs to provide 700,000 job opportunities annually

Egypt’s unemployment rate declined 1.4 percent during the first quarter of 2018 to 10.6 percent, compared to 12 percent in the same period of 2017, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). 

On a quarter on quarter basis, the unemployment rate also decreased from 11.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017. 

CAPMAS said that the unemployment rate among young people from 15 to 29 years old recorded 75.2 percent of the total labor force in Q1 2017. 

The report revealed that the unemployment of holders of intermediate, university and higher degrees reached 87.7 percent of the total labor force; compared to 89.5 in the previous quarter. 

The unemployment rate in urban areas recorded 12.1 percent, compared to 9.5 percent in rural areas. 

The number of employees reached 26.09 million in Q1 2018, with an increase of 1.7 percent, or 446,000 employees, compared to the same period of 2017. 

In 2017, Egypt’s unemployment rate slipped to 11.8 percent, compared to 12.5 percent in 2016. 

Minister of Finance Amr el-Garhy said earlier that the Egyptian economic reform program contributed in reducing the unemployment rate by 2.3 percent in three years, clarifying that the huge projects established by the government provided job opportunities. 

Meanwhile, Planning Minister Hala al-Saeed said in March that the construction sector helped in providing around 3.7 million jobs, representing 20 percent of total workers in the domestic market. 

This data matched with what President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi had earlier stated about reducing the rate to 10 percent during the few upcoming years. 

Minister of Planning’s Advisor Ahmed Kamali stated earlier that Egypt needs to provide 700,000 job opportunities to limit the increase of the unemployment rate, and this number should be exceeded to reduce the unemployment rate. 

In the same context, IMF Egypt Mission Chief Subir Lall said that Egypt has to offer 700,000 job opportunities annually, noting that this number has to be led by the private sector, in light of the large population growth and the large number of youths. 

Lall added that the private sector alone can provide these opportunities through the establishment of small and medium enterprises, and the expansion of existing companies where it is difficult for the public sector to step in. 

Decreasing the unemployment rates requires higher levels of economic growth. Egypt witnessed a growth rate of 5.3 percent in the second quarter of fiscal year 2017/2018, targeting to achieve a rate of 5.8 percent during the next fiscal year, and 7 percent in 2022. 

The upcoming budget seeks to lower the unemployment rate to 10.4 percent with an inflation rate of 13 percent. 

Egypt 2030 Vision aims to reduce unemployment from the current percentage to 4 percent. 

Additional reporting by Rehab Ismail and Hanan Mohamed.



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