Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New regime accused of being biased toward rich

Tue, 09/10/2012

Journalists accused the government of Prime Minister Hesham Qandil of being biased toward the rich during a meeting Tuesday.

The meeting came as part of Qandil’s attempt to initiate social dialogue with political forces and civil society organizations.

Chief editors of newspapers warned of a “revolution of the hungry” if prices go up, referring to the government’s intention to reduce subsidies for certain basic commodities.

Qandil explained that subsidies for bread would remain untouched, but its distribution would be controlled to make sure it goes to those in most need of it. He added that the government is supporting small businesses.

The prime minister noted that state support will continue to subsidize butane cylinders with LE67 per cylinder, but noted that the price of cylinders can be LE40 on the black market which indicates that the subsidies reaching those they are meant to. He said that recent decisions were meant to aid the poor.

“We must have relief from the frequent rumors,” Qandil said. “The current leadership is not corrupt, it strives to solve the problems of citizens and works for the benefit of the nation.”

He added that he is working on boosting the economy, which he said is starting to recover as exports grew by 5.3 percent in the third quarter of this year and Egypt was omitted from the Standard & Poor’s watch list.

The Cabinet has taken measures to counter corruption and to recover the state money smuggled abroad by former officials, Qandil said, assuring that measures have been taken to rationalize Cabinet spending.

During a press conference following the meeting, Qandil said that there are proposals for a progressive taxation system and to stop supplying high consumption industries with subsidized energy.

Qandil said that he has held four “social dialogue” meetings to consult various forces on the economic, financial and social challenges facing Egypt.

*Photo courtesy of REUTERS

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