Egypt’s El Sisi says he will pull economy through global crisis

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on Tuesday cast aside growing worries about Egypt’s economic crisis, assuring the nation’s 104 million people that his government will pull them through.

Speaking at a televised ceremony on the 49th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Mr El Sisi also warned Egyptians against paying heed to what he called the “poisonous” lies spread by “forces of evil” — an apparent reference to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The military removed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, amid mass street protests against his divisive, one-year rule. Mr El Sisi was the nation’s top general at the time.

Mr El Sisi said the “new republic” — a recently coined phrase to reflect his ambitious efforts to modernise the country — will meet the aspirations of this and the next generations and witness Egypt’s shift to a “modern and developed nation.”

He did not go into details about the country’s economic woes or explain the reasoning behind his confidence that Egypt will pull through.

“We will, by the grace of God, sail through these difficult circumstances. You will see,” Mr El Sisi said.

Egypt’s economy has been devastated by the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine due to rising costs of wheat and energy, global uncertainty and inflationary pressure. This hit as the most populous Arab nation was recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since March, the Egyptian pound has depreciated by about 20 per cent.

Its value is expected to further slide in the remainder of the year — from the current 19.60 Egyptian pounds to the dollar to around 22 to 23 Egyptian pounds to the dollar by the beginning of next year.

A shortage of US dollars, partially caused by a soaring import bill and the flight of billions of dollars from Egypt’s once lucrative debt market, has hit local industries hard.

Inflation, fuelled by higher global energy, shipping and food prices, is hovering around 14 per cent.

The country is widely thought to be inching closer to securing an IMF loan as part of an economic restructuring programme to be agreed with the Washington-based lender.

Speculation by analysts puts the size of the loan at between $5 billion and $8bn.