Mon, 15 Mar 2021 - 04:25 GMT
SDGs - Wikimedia Commons
CAIRO – 15 March 2021: Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala El-Said stated Monday that Egypt ranks 83rd globally in achieving SDGs as indicated in the UN Sustainable Development Report issued recently by the University of Cambridge.
That was during her participation via videoconferencing in the symposium on "Sustainable Development Goals after the Coronavirus Pandemic" organized by the Sustainable Development Studies Program at Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
The minister pointed out that Egypt has achieved many goals set for 2030 on the economic, social, and environmental levels. Those goals are pertinent to infrastructure, availability of services to citizens, drinking water services, sanitation, electricity, quality of infrastructure, and competitiveness of travel and tourism for they were are included in Egypt's Vision 2030.
El-Said added that the state had begun implementing many legislative and institutional reforms, which contributed to achieving total stability and comprehensive growth. That is why improvement was made on several indicators in FY 2019/2020 before the occurrence of the Covid 19 crisis.
The rate of economic growth reached about 5.6% in the first half. “Since FY2019/2020, the unemployment rate has decreased to less than 8%, the average inflation rate has declined to about 5%, and the foreign exchange reserves recovered to cover more than 8.5 months of imports,” El-Said said.
El-Said explained that the speculations of international institutions were positive regarding the Egyptian economy, which is considered the only economy in the region that achieved positive growth rates in light of the crisis, as the rate of GDP growth reached 3.6% for FY2019/2020.
“It was planned to achieve a growth rate of 5.8% in FY 2019/2020, and 6% in 2020/2021,” she explained lamenting the pandemic's repercussions.
Egypt was among a limited number of countries in the world that achieved positive growth in light of the pandemic, and this good growth performance was accompanied by an increase in the employment rate and a decrease in unemployment rates, which fell to 7.2% in the second quarter of (FY20/2021), in addition to a significant decline in the rate of inflation which reached 4.9% in February 2021.
El-Said pointed out that among the positive indicators is the poverty rate in rural and urban areas, which has declined to 29.7% compared to 32.5% in FY2017/2018.
In this context, El-Said reviewed the set of proactive policies that the Egyptian government has taken to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, foremost of which is supporting the affected sectors: by reducing financial burdens and providing liquidity and credit; In the forefront of which is the tourism, aviation, shipping and travel sector, and the medium, small and micro enterprises sector.
The proactive policies aimed to mitigate the negative impact on those sectors in terms of closure and employment targeted supporting regular and irregular workers through monetary aid disbursed for six months upon a presidential initiative.
The Egyptian government will also work to take advantage of the databases that include about 6 million workers who got the grant, to develop appropriate training programs in preparation for creating suitable job opportunities for them.
El-Said pointed out the revitalization of the economy by increasing incomes and investments in priority sectors includes providing a stimulus package of about LE 100 billion (2% of GDP), in addition to adopting incentive monetary and fiscal policies that include lowering interest rates, postponing and returning scheduling debts of some sectors, financing packages, and postponing tax payments and some sovereign dues.
On the social protection measures taken by the Egyptian state, El-Said referred to the launch of the first phase of the national project for the development of the Egyptian countryside, "A Decent Life", in January 2019; Which targeted 375 villages and contributed to mitigating the effects of the Coronavirus on the lives of 4.5 million citizens, which helped reduce poverty rates in some villages by 14 percentage points, and improved the rate of access to basic services by about 50 percentage points in some villages, and raised the efficiency of 12,000 houses.
El-Said went on that, in continuation of the success achieved in the first phase, the second phase of the initiative was launched within the framework of the National Project for the Development of the Egyptian Countryside, which extends for three years, targeting all the villages of the Egyptian countryside (4,500 villages in which half of the population of Egypt live - 50 million citizens).
El-Said explained that among the priorities comes the Egyptian state’s interest in the localization of development, or what is called “Local Localization of Sustainable Development Goals,” intending to achieve the concept of “inclusive, sustainable, and balanced regional development”, as one of the main pillars of Egypt's 2030 vision.
El-Said pointed out that the Egyptian state focuses on several promising sectors that represent a basic pillar to drive growth. Those are health services and medical supplies, agriculture, food industries, communications, and information technology, construction, construction, and manufacturing industries.
El-Said stressed that the health and education sectors are of the utmost importance to the Egyptian state, as they are the main tool for development and building human capabilities and the main entry point for the advancement of society.
“The state also attaches utmost importance to the communications and information technology sector and the infrastructure for digitization, in the context of enhancing the trend towards digital transformation,” she added.
About the green economy, El-Said indicated that in light of the Egyptian government giving priority to sustainable financing and its pursuit of consistency of public investment with the principles of the green economy, following Vision 2030, the government adopts a national strategy for the transition to a green economy, explaining that work is underway to achieve 30% of investment projects.
“The state's concepts of environmental sustainability and green economy will increase to 50% in the next three years,” she noted.
El-Said concluded her speech by referring to the challenge of overpopulation that devours the results and fruits of the achieved growth and even threatens more economic and social pressures and challenges, which lead to a decline in the return from development efforts between provinces.
Therefore, the state works to manage the population issue and improve the population characteristics such as education, health, job opportunities, economic empowerment, and culture. That is in tandem with maximizing the utilization of human resources through the implementation of a bundle of training programs, capacity building, and expansion of investment in people, she explained.
The minister asserted that the emerging Coronavirus crisis exceeded in its severity and economic repercussions all previous crises the world had witnessed.
El-Said explained that it resulted in developing countries suffering from a lack of the funding they needed for the year 2020 to keep them on the right track to achieve development goals.
This funding is estimated at $ 1.7 trillion, according to a report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) encompassing world's top performing 37 economies.
El-Said added that the crisis caused a gap of $ 1 trillion in public spending on measures to recover from the Coronavirus, compared to what is spent in developed countries, with a decrease in foreign direct investment flows by up to 40% in developing economies during the year 2020, which was reflected.
The HDI decreased significantly in 2020 for the first time since it began measuring it in 1990.
El-Said displayed some measures named by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to achieve recovery and SDGs together. Those consist of providing social protection and respecting the rights of all in a way that reflects solidarity and equality, investing in capacity development focusing on the health sectors and addressing income inequalities.
The recovery measures pivoted around concrete steps towards inclusion and promotion of diversity, gender equality, and governance. That is in addition to accelerating the pace of digital transformation, spreading peace through the establishment of peaceful institutions and societies capable of resilience, preparedness, and risk management.