Egypt Plans Stimulus to Revive ?Sudden Stop? Economy

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ashraf Abdel-Wanis had plenty of reasons to join tens of thousands of fellow Egyptians in their successful push to oust President Hosni Mubarak. At 39, he last worked five years ago in a sugar factory and now gets by mainly on his wife’s $50 monthly salary and his mother’s pension.

“The Egyptian family’s nutrition consists of beans, lentils and beans,” he said in an interview in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the plaza at the heart of almost three weeks of protests. “If they’re lucky, they cook vegetables once a week.”

Now with Mubarak gone, the plight of Abdel-Wanis and the 40 percent of his countrymen near the poverty line is prompting Finance Minister Samir Radwan to develop a stimulus plan aimed at creating the jobs needed to avoid further social unrest. His plan also will need to compensate for domestic and foreign businesses that shy away from investing until the military council’s transitional rule ends.

“There’s a need for a stimulus package that’s very closely related to employment,” Radwan, a former senior economist at the Geneva-based International Labor Organization, said in a Feb. 12 telephone interview. “There are at least three sectors that can do the trick: industry and manufacturing, tourism and agriculture,” he told Bloomberg Television in a separate interview aired today.

Source: Bloomberg (link opens in a new window)