Rights groups call upon IMF to condition social protection priority and detainees’ release in Egypt


Seven human rights groups called upon the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to ensure that any new loan program for Egypt expands social protection, enhances the independence of the judiciary and tackles corruption. They also noted the importance of economic transparency, including for military companies. “Despite providing $20 billion in loans to Egypt, the IMF has not completed the reforms needed to effectively address the military’s growing and unaccountable role in the economy or expand individuals’ social safety,” said Sarah Saadoun, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Progress on necessary reforms remains elusive, and millions of Egyptians are increasingly vulnerable to the external shocks of the global economy.”

The groups emphasized that the IMF should not approve any loan program that raises living costs without significantly increasing social protection investments. “If the IMF is serious about helping improve Egypt’s governance and build an economy for all, it should change its approach dramatically,” said Timothy Kaldas, policy fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. “It must end its disregard for the tens of millions of Egyptians living in poverty and the massive expansion of the military’s shadowy role in the economy.”

They also noted that about 30 million people were living below the poverty line even before the pandemic, and nearly a third were at risk of reaching poverty. Before the recent big price hike, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced the reduction of the bread subsidy program that some 70 million people depend on.

The groups said that the IMF should consider progressive taxation and urged it to pressure the Egyptian authorities to stop the crackdown on freedom of expression and association and release imprisoned journalists, parliamentarians, and human rights defenders.