Egyptian minister discusses agreements to finance Sinai Development Program

The agreements are worth $885 million. (Shuttstock/file)
Short Url
Updated 16 September 2020

Egyptian minister discusses agreements to finance Sinai Development Program

CAIRO: Egypt has signed three agreements worth around $885 million with Arab funds since the start of the year to finance the Sinai Peninsula Development Program.

Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat said on Tuesday that the agreements would finance the program, support structural reform and improve the efficiency of the government's public financial management, as well as strengthen the Ministry of Health's capacity to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The agreements are part of the International Cooperation Ministry's efforts, through economic diplomacy, to provide financing for development projects in accordance with the priorities of the National Development Agenda 2030 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and to enhance cooperation with development partners and strengthen economic relations with international and regional organizations.

Al-Mashat said in a statement that an agreement worth $637.9 million was signed with the Arab Monetary Fund to support structural and institutional reform to raise the efficiency of public financial management in line with the country’s economic reform program.

She added that this agreement falls within the framework of the economic reform program begun in 2016 to protect the economy and has five main objectives: To enhance the preparation and implementation of the state budget; develop tax administration; strengthen government procurement management; improve the social protection system; and enhance general debt management.

The minister highlighted another agreement worth about $243.2 million with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, which will be used to establish a clean-water system for the Bahr Al-Baqar drain, within the Sinai Peninsula Development Plan.

She emphasized that the project will increase agricultural production, link the Sinai Peninsula with the Delta region, and provide job opportunities and improved services. A navigation channel of 20 square kilometers will be established, as will pumping stations to transport Bahr Al-Baqar sewage water from the west of the Suez Canal to the east; a treatment plant; farms; facilities for agricultural processing and preparing studies, designs and tenders; and consultancy services to oversee the project.

The estimated cost of the project to establish the Bahr Al-Baqar drainage system is about $1 billion. The Ministry of International Cooperation had previously signed three agreements in the same framework, one with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development worth $238 million and two with the Kuwait Fund for Development worth $255 million.

Al-Mashat added that a grant agreement worth $3.3 million had been signed with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development to support efforts to combat COVID-19.

Egypt’s cooperation with Arab funds began in 1974, since when deals worth a total of roughly $12.5 billion have been signed, including a current portfolio of $6.9 billion, which includes the Kuwait Fund for Development, the Saudi Fund for Development, the Abu Dhabi Fund for development, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, and the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.


Lebanese spy chief tests positive for virus in US

Updated 10 min 28 sec ago

Lebanese spy chief tests positive for virus in US

  • Lebanon’s General Directorate of Public Security said that Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is in ‘good health,’ but will postpone his return to Beirut following the PCR test

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s security chief has been forced to delay his return from an official visit to the US after testing positive for coronavirus following a series of White House meetings.

Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, director-general of the Lebanese Public Security, met with US officials, including David Hale, the undersecretary of state for political affairs; CIA director Gina Haspel; and national security adviser Robert O’Brien during his recent visit to Washington.

Hale, as well as several other employees from the State Department and other executive branch divisions, are now self-isolating for 14 days, US officials said.

Lebanon’s General Directorate of Public Security said that Ibrahim is in “good health,” but will postpone his return to Beirut following the PCR test.

The Lebanese intelligence chief also held talks with senior US security officials in Washington. He was scheduled to hold meetings in Paris before his return to Beirut.

In Lebanon, the number of coronavirus infections during October rose to more than 24,000, climbing past the September total of 22,000.

Since the outbreak began in February, more than 63,000 cases have been reported in the country, with 525 fatalities.

Firas Abyad, director of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital, said: “The situation is unacceptable. If we continue on this path, we will soon reach a point where the number of critical coronavirus cases outweighs the number of available intensive care beds. This will coincide with winter, when the demand for intensive care beds increases for pneumonia cases, for example.”

Abyad told Arab News: “One of the most difficult cases that doctors can face is the death of a mother after giving birth, due to the repercussions of her infection with the coronavirus, and this happened a few days ago in Tripoli.”

Abyad pointed to a “state of denial” among those infected with the virus, saying some “consider it as just a regular flu, and do not think about the consequences of the disease.”

He added: “We have 215 cases that need intensive care in Lebanon. We are not fully occupied yet, but we may be shortly.”

Almost 80 Lebanese towns have been placed in lockdown by the Ministry of Interior after recording high rates of infection.

The one-week lockdown decree issued on Tuesday included the southern Beirut neighborhoods of Ghobeiry, Haret Hreik, Burj Al-Brajneh, Tahwitet Al-Ghadeer and Al-Laylaki.

According to the Mount Lebanon Governorate, some suburbs “failed to abide by individual and collective preventive measures to limit the spread of active infection chains.”

The lockdown includes a ban on “social events, parties and gatherings of all kinds.”

Cafes, gaming lounges, amusement parks, sports clubs and public parks will also be closed under the restrictions.