Al-Sisi and COVID-19 put Egyptians under financial strain

The Central Apparatus for Public Mobilisation and Statistics issued a study about the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, titled “Coronavirus’ influence on Egyptian families,” which monitored coronavirus’ influence on the consumption habits and income of Egyptians. The study revealed that work affairs of more than half of the Egyptians have changed, as 26.2 per cent of them left their jobs entirely and became unemployed, while 55.7 per cent work for fewer hours, and 18.1 per cent turned to intermittent work.

All this led to a decrease of income of 73.5 per cent of the Egyptians over the months of March, April and May. The study attributed 60.3 per cent of that decrease to the precautionary measures made by the government, 31.5 per cent to the decrease in demand, 14.5 per cent to the salary cuts, and 15.1 per cent to the disruption or complete suspension of projects.

In the face of these catastrophic consequences, the study indicated that about half of Egyptian families resorted to loans, while 17 per cent of the families depend on the charitable aid. This is three times the number of families who got the state’s grant allocated to the seasonal labour.

The Egyptian government had announced the launching of a cash support programme directed to the families of seasonal labour. The grant is EGP 500 monthly to each family (about $31). Despite the low value of this grant, the government announced that only 1,600,216 workers deserved the grant, while Kamal Abu Eita, the former minister of labour, asserted that the number of seasonal labourers exceeds 20 million.

The study explained that the consumption of red meat decreased by 25.7 per cent, of birds’ meat by 17.5 per cent and of fruits by 14.5 per cent. Simultaneously, the consumption of rice increased by seven per cent, of cooking oil by 8.3 per cent, of vegetables by 6.1 per cent, in order to compensate the shortage of animal protein. Moreover, 36 per cent of families resorted to reducing the amount of food in meals, while 19.8 per cent of families reduced the number of meals they were eating daily. Despite such catastrophic conditions, the Egyptian government announced a new rise in the prices of electricity to be implemented in July.