“The state is obliged to allocate a percentage of government spending for health that is not less than three per cent of the gross national product, which gradually escalates to conform to global rates,” says Article 18 of the 2014 Egyptian constitution. In a new violation of Egyptian law, the new Egyptian budget bill did not allocate the stipulated percentages set for the health, education, and scientific research sectors. This was stated in the new Egyptian budget bill, which Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Maait presented to parliament on Tuesday on the new Egyptian budget for 2020/2021. According to Egyptian law, the fiscal year begins on July 1 of every year, and ends at the end of June of the following year. Economists affirmed that the Egyptian budget has violated the provisions of Articles 18, 19, 21, and 23 of the constitution, for the fifth year in a row.
These articles relate to the state’s commitment to allocate a percentage of government spending of no less than three per cent of the national product to the health sector, four per cent for pre-university education, two per cent for higher education, and one per cent for scientific research. However, the fiscal year 2020/2021 budget allocated only about 3.65 per cent of the constitutional allocations for all these sectors combined, compared to the GDP of EGP 6.9 trillion ($436.9 billion).
Health sector credits in the new budget amounted to EGP 93.54 billion ($5.9 billion) including allocations of the Ministry of Health and directorates of health affairs in governorates, hospital services, specialised hospitals, maternity centres, public health services, research and development in the field of health affairs, the Pharmaceutical Research Authority and the National Council for Combating and Treating Addiction.
The accreditation of the education sector reached EGP 157.58 billion ($10 billion), including allocations for pre-university education at all levels, higher education, non-identified-level education, education assistance services, research and development in the field of education, the General Authority for Literacy, adult education, the General Authority for Educational Buildings, and the Education Development Fund.
Observers say it is hard to believe that the Egyptian budget allocated such meager numbers to the health sector at a time when the world is witnessing the spread of coronavirus. Health experts say that all countries of the world are beginning to realise the need to increase spending on health, and have already begun to direct bigger funds towards the health sector, although most of these countries already devote much more to their health budgets than Egypt does.
The Egyptian budget also saw the government raise its estimates for the “other expenses” section from EGP 90.44 billion ($5.8 billion) in the budget for the fiscal year 2019/2020, to EGP 105 billion ($6.6 billion) in the budget for the fiscal year 2020/2021, an increase of EGP 14.56 million ($921,900).
Expenditures for “other expenses” are usually for the budgets of the Ministry of Defence, National Security, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Egyptians call these items in the budget “the credits of one-line entities,” such as the House of Representatives and the Central Auditing Agency.
The government also raised the allocations for the section Public Order and Public Safety Affairs from EGP 69.69 million ($4.41 million) in the current budget to EGP 78.88 million ($5 million) in the new budget, including EGP 59.17 ($3.75 million) million for wages and workers compensation, an increase of EGP 5.13 million ($324,862).
The allocations for this section include police services, prisons, fire protection, courts, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Constitutional Court, judicial bodies, the Egyptian Dar al-Iftaa, the Civil Status Development Fund, the Courts Building Fund, and the in-kind registry fund.