Egypt’s President El-Sisi raises minimum wage by 67 percent

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Saturday announced that he has raised the minimum wage to 2,000 Egyptian pounds ($115.74) per month. (Reuters)
Updated 30 March 2019
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Egypt’s President El-Sisi raises minimum wage by 67 percent

  • The move came ahead of a possible national referendum on constitutional amendments that would potentially allow El-Sisi to remain in power until 2034
  • He said in televised comments the raise will be applied to all Egyptian workers

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Saturday announced that he has raised the minimum wage to 2,000 Egyptian pounds ($115.74) per month from 1,200 ($69.27), a 67 percent increase.
The move came ahead of a possible national referendum on constitutional amendments that would potentially allow him to remain in power until 2034.
Egypt’s Parliament, which is packed with El-Sisi supporters, overwhelmingly approved a package of constitutional changes last month that would further enshrine the military’s role in politics. The supposed referendum is expected to be held in the coming weeks.
El-Sisi said in televised comments the raise will be applied to all Egyptian workers. The move was part of a package of measures, including a raise in pensions and bonuses, intended to ease the burdens of Egyptians hurt by painful austerity measures in recent years. Egypt’s Finance Ministry said the increase would kick in in July.
The austerity measures were part of an ambitious economic reform program intended to revive the country’s economy mauled by years of political turmoil and violence.
The reforms included floating the currency, substantial cuts in state subsidies on basic goods, and introducing a wide range of new taxes. The measures led to a significant rise in prices and services, something critics say has hurt the poor and middle class the hardest.
The reforms were agreed on with the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a $12 billion loan.
El-Sisi thanked Egyptians, especially women, for enduring the harsh measures. “Another path would have led to the collapse of the state,” he said in a ceremony honoring Egyptian women.
Removing state subsidies is something that El-Sisi’s predecessors could not do because of fears of unrest. The late President Anwar Sadat attempted in 1977 to remove subsidies on bread, a main staple for Egyptians, sparking deadly street riots. He backed down. In comparison, El-Sisi’s reforms fueled popular discontent but never boiled over onto the streets.
Demonstrations are virtually banned in Egypt under a 2013 law, with offenders facing up to five years in prison if convicted.
The economic reform program has won El-Sisi lavish praise from Egypt’s Western backers and bankers. His policies, however, have made more difficult the plight of a majority of Egyptians who are now forced to cope with steep hikes in the price of everything from utilities and fuel to food and transportation.


France’s Macron sends senior diplomat to Iran to defuse US tensions

Updated 23 min ago
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France’s Macron sends senior diplomat to Iran to defuse US tensions

  • Emmanuel Bonne held ‘high-level meetings’ Wednesday in Tehran
  • The French presidency refused to say whom the top diplomatic adviser met

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron sent his top diplomatic adviser to Iran this week as part of European efforts to defuse tensions between Tehran and Washington, the French presidency said Thursday.
The adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, held “high-level meetings” Wednesday in Tehran, “with the aim of contributing to the de-escalation of tensions in the region,” Macron’s office said.
The presidency refused to say whom Bonne met, adding only that he left Tehran on Wednesday evening.
The strains between Washington and Tehran increased Thursday with Iran’s announcement that it had shot down a US “spy drone” that violated Iranian airspace near the Strait of Hormuz.
The United States has yet to respond.
The incident marks the latest escalation in tensions following last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, which the United States blamed on Iran.
Tehran has denied any involvement.
Tensions between the longtime foes, who have had no relations since the hostage crisis that followed the 1979 Islamic revolution, have increased sharply since US President Donald Trump last year abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and re-imposed sanctions.
Macron, who is traveling to a G20 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka on June 28-29, will “have contact with the main players” in the standoff, his office said.
Before that he will pay an official visit to Japan on June 26-27, during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who recently traveled to Iran to try mediate in the crisis.
Abe met with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who categorically refused to hold talks with Trump.
The EU is under pressure from Tehran to try salvage the 2015 deal, with Iran threatening to breach its nuclear enrichment limits.
On Tuesday, Macron urged Tehran to be “patient and responsible.”