Egypt to raise stimulus by a third, implement minimum wage by January

A shopkeeper checks his supplies of dates. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt will spend 29.6 billion Egyptian pounds on a stimulus package to get its moribund economy going, a third more than previously planned, according to a Finance Ministry statement on Monday. The original plan announced in August had provided for around 22.3 billion pounds in additional spending on a variety of projects, but the ministry said the increases would not push this year's budget deficit above the previous goal. "This financial package will not increase the budget deficit of the state from the government target of 10 percent due to the success of reforms taken lately and the effects of the Arab aid packages," the statement said. The economy of the Arab world's most populous country has been crippled by social and political turmoil since Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 but has been helped in recent months by funding from several Gulf Arab States. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates promised a combined $12 billion in loans, grants and fuel shipments after the army, prompted by mass protests, overthrew the country's first democratically elected president Mohamed Mursi on July 3. The statement also said that the government plans to implement a minimum wage early next year which would cost the country 18 billion pounds annually. "The government is committed to implementing the minimum wage starting from next January which will cost the public treasury around 9 billion pounds during the second half of the current financial year, rising to 18 billion pounds annually," the statement said. Egypt's Trade and Industry Minister told Reuters earlier this month that Egypt plans a second stimulus package by early next year that will likely be equal or larger than the 22.3 billion pounds announced in August.