President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi defended his latest decision to partially lift fuel subsidies in a speech on the Ramadan anniversary of the October 6 War, calling on Egyptians to restore the spirit of these times.
The Egyptian people faced a lot of pain and suffering between the June 1967 defeat and victory in the October 1973 War, Sisi said, adding that the people were a fundamental partner in the victory due to the dire economic conditions they endured.
“Egyptians were living in a war economy for seven years and never complained until victory was achieved in 1973,” he asserted.
The presidency and the government will not be able to face the country’s economic challenges alone, Sisi said, calling on the people to bear the burden as well.
He asserted that the decision to partially lift fuel subsidies, which sparked a wave of criticism among critics and consumers, is in the general interest of Egyptian citizens.
“We had to take these decisions, they are like a bitter medicine,” he explained.
Sisi added that the budget deficit in 2014 reached LE300 billion, as the government pays LE600 million daily on loan interests, a similar figure for wages, and LE400 million for subsidies.
“Was there another choice? No, I swear to God. Could we have delayed this decision? It should have happened years ago,” he asserted.
Egypt still needs to borrow LE250 billion, according to Sisi, even after the recent cuts.
The Egyptian state, he explained, has suffered from the failure of subsidies to reach those in need. “A villa owner gets a subsidy of LE4000 per month for electricity, while the poor gets just LE50,” he explained.
Addressing the security challenges Egypt is facing, Sisi asserted that Egypt would not be in the same situation as other Arab countries, in which states are divided and demolished in the name of religion.
“I warned against the spread of terrorism in the region a year ago. This concerns the entire international community not just the Arab world,” he said, adding that the Arab region is being destroyed and everyone should pay attention to this.