Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has stated his resolve to push through reforms necessary to turn around the country’s economic fortunes as well as cut down on public debt.
His comments follow the successful negotiation of a 12 billion dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which is to support comprehensive government reforms.
The three-year facility was agreed by the IMF on Thursday but is subject to final approval by the Fund’s Executive Committee.
The disbursement of the facility is linked to progress on a variety of reforms including subsidy cuts, introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) and a shift to a more flexible exchange rate regime.
Speaking at the opening of a factory in Alexandria, the Egyptian president said he would not hesitate to take the tough decisions others have failed to take in the past.
“The first effort at reform came in 1977 and when it was not accepted by the citizens, all the governments hesitated to make reform efforts, afraid of reactions,” said the Egyptian president.
He said: “All the hard decisions that many were afraid to take over the last few years, I will not hesitate one second to take them,” adding “it is not only you who will judge me. God will also judge and so will history”.
Cutting back of subsidies has for a long time remained a politically heated issue in Egypt, but the government has since 2014 embarked on a 5-year program to eliminate energy subsidies.
The country’s parliament is also considering VAT bill which has not been yet due to opposition from lawmakers who have raised concerns about its likely impact on prices.
President Fatah al-Sisi has meanwhile promised that there are plans to protect the country’s poor from the impact of the impending reforms.