Egypt’s African Finance Minister of 2019 promises to help Africa with economic reform

18-04-2019 05:40 PM

Rose Hosny



Finance Minister Muhammad Maait has announced Egypt’s willingness to transfer to African countries its experience on economic and financial reform, also on the digitisation of public finances, basing on Egypt’s pioneering experience in these domains. The initiative comes as Egypt seriously takes on its responsibility as head of the African Union for 2019, a charge it assumed in January 2019.

Mr Maait’s statement was made during the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development recently held in Morocco . He said that technology can enhance the capacity of African countries to mobilise revenues, improve resource management, and enable the achievement of domestic policy objectives more effectively.

The Egyptian Finance Minister explained the stages of the Egyptian economic reform programme and Egypt’s achievements in recent years, such as raising economic growth rates to 5.3 percent during 2017/2018, targeting 5.6 percent during the current fiscal year 2018/2019, and about 6 percent during fiscal year 2019/2020.

He highlighted the control of the budget deficit, which fell to about 9.8 percent, with an initial surplus that for the first time in decades reached LE21 billion.

Mr Maait was named African Finance Minister of the Year 2019 by The Banker, the English-language monthly international financial affairs magazine publication owned by The Financial Times Ltd. and edited in London, United Kingdom. The Banker said that Mr Maait had beaten contenders from all other countries in Africa, winning the award for driving “Egypt’s ambitious programme of economic reform”, which has continued to “win plaudits from around the world, with good reason”.
Sri Mulyani, Indonesia’s minister of finance, was named global finance minister of the year 2019. Alamine Ousmane Mey of Cameroon won the same award in 2018, while Pravin Gordhan of South Africa and Adriano Maleiane, minister of economy and finance, Mozambique, and Egypt’s Hany Kadry Dimian won for 2017, 2016, and 2015 respectively.

In its announcement of Mr Maait’s award, The Banker said that: “In the space of a few short years, the country [Egypt] has enacted some of the most wide-reaching structural reforms in its recent history.
“Admittedly, this has led to a high degree of short-term pain for Egyptian consumers – high inflation has emerged, for instance, as a result of the free float of the pound – but these reforms are undoubtedly paving the way for a brighter future for the country. And at the forefront of this reform story is Egypt’s finance ministry.”

Mr Maait took office in June 2018, replacing Amr al-Garhy. Though his tenure has been short, he continued the work of his predecessors to ensure that Egypt’s reform program remains on track.
“As such, the 2019 African Finance Minister of the Year award reflects both Maait’s personal contributions to this story, in tandem with the ministry’s wider push to reform the economy,” The Banker added.
“Indeed, the ministry’s efforts to improve public finances saw Egypt post its first primary budget surplus (which excludes interest payments on government debt) in 15 years in July 2018. This came as tough fuel and electricity subsidy cuts, among other measures, helped to shore up Egypt’s fiscal situation, and rating agency Moody’s expects Egypt to return to sustain primary fiscal surpluses moving forward.

Watani International

18 April 2019


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