Health insurance funds into the stock exchange: Fears of new embezzlement

The Egyptian Minister of Finance and head of the General Authority of Comprehensive Health Insurance, Mohamed Mait, said the authority intends to invest its stocks and assets in the stock exchange to diversify the investment portfolio. Mait added the authority is currently investing its funds in bonds, treasury bills, and deposits with a total value of 5 billion pounds. The total revenues of the authority since the launch of the new system in 2018 amounted to 85.5 billion pounds, while the assets are worth of 55.6 billion pounds.

Egypt approved a new health insurance law in 2018, which is based on separating funding from service provision and diversifying financial resources to include subscriptions of the insured, contributions, shares of business owners, and support from the public treasury for those who are unable. In addition, the authority collects a share from each pack of cigarettes or tobacco derivatives sold in the local market, a percentage of highway tolls, a share in the fees of renewing driving licenses, and a share of the costs of obtaining permits for hospitals and medical centres.

The law took 1% of the wages of insured workers as a monthly subscription and 4% of the total wages from each business. At the same time, it excluded public health services, ambulance services, and family planning services. The system has been partially implemented so far, as the application is divided into six stages, the first of which includes the governorates of Port Said, Suez, South Sinai, North Sinai, and Ismailia, has not yet been completed. Mait’s statements evoked fears of repeating the failure when the Insurance and Pensions Authority’s funds were lost after former Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali suggested investing them in the stock exchange. Mervat Tallawy, the former Minister of Insurance and Social Affairs, accused Ghali of abusing the insurance and pension funds to bridge the public budget deficit. At the same time, it is the subscribers’ money, not the government’s public money.

In previous statements, Mait pointed out that the insurance funds invested by Ghali were worth about 435 billion pounds at the time, all of which were lost, and no government agency has yet investigated where the money went. After the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Boutros Ghali fled abroad. He was sentenced in absentia by the Egyptian courts to life imprisonment on various charges, including 30 years of rigorous imprisonment, 25 years of life imprisonment, ten years in prison, and to return hundreds of millions to the state treasury. And that is on charges of aggression against public money and intentional damage to it, forgery of official documents and their use, and incidents of financial corruption that led to wasting funds of the Ministry of Finance and public money, and obtaining a benefit for others without right in violation of the law, and deliberately harming the funds and interests of the Ministry of Finance seriously harm.