The Ninth Money and Finance Conference in Cairo on September 30th to October 1st at the Marriott hotel opened on an optimistic and hopeful note about giving Egypt a global voice despite its political challenges in the past two years. The opening speaker with passion and conviction began his speech on a political tone stating that the Egyptians have built the pyramids and now they will write their own future both economically and politically.
The opening speaker added that Egyptians living on $2 a day and the Illiteracy rate being 50% is not the Egypt that Egyptians are aspiring to. Individuals at the conference understand that they have a lot to do and are ready to implement their unique ideas for Egypt.
Gathering the private and public sector for the very first time after the January 25th revolution, the Ninth Money and Finance conference symbolizes a new chapter for Egypt as it is determined to recover economically and politically with the will and effort of its people creating change.
The first session of the conference began with an "Overview of Egypt's Fiscal Policies-Enhancing Domestic and Regional Investments." Moderated by Mr. Hisham El-Khazindar, Co-founder and Managing Director of Citadel Capital, panelists HE Dr. Ahmed Galal, Egyptian Minister of Finance, HE Dr. Ashraf El-Arabi, Egyptian Minister of Planning and HE Mr. Osama Saleh, Egyptian Minister of Investment spoke about Egypt's interim government's visions, plans and actions for the future with an emphasis on social justice.
Some of the issues currently facing Egypt as mentioned Dr. El-Arabi were Egypt's high unemployment rate which is presently at 13% and the low investment rate which is at 14% as compared to 2008 which was 22%. Therefore, the government's current focus is tackling these two issues by creating job opportunities especially in the public sector and encouraging foreign and local investment. Dr. El-Arabi explained that some of the public sector projects to provide more jobs to Egyptians include infrastructure development, water plants, transportation and the construction sector.
Dr. Galal stated that the interim government has a clear mandate and a road map in order to attract more investment. He stated that despite the common belief that investors are not interested in investing in Egypt, investment in Egypt has not stopped. Many investors are currently in the stages of investment and that civilians will be benefiting from them soon as implementation is expected to start in the coming year. He also added that he has just come back from USA where some potential partnerships were spoken about.
After, Mr. Saleh announced that his main focal point for economic development was the upcoming opening of L'oreal and Samsung, two companies which will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the Egyptian economy.
All three speakers agreed that government needs to continue to enrich the culture of accountability and social participation of government and trust with its people.
"When we tell citizens we have a plan for three years and long term we need them to hear us and we need them to trust us". Dr. El-Arabi
Final questions were directed about the recent increase of minimum wages in Egypt and how this might impact the public and private sector but mostly importantly the Egyptian civilians. Unquestionably, this increase will affect all Egyptians and has no straightforward answer and it is still open for discussion during Egypt's current transitions.
The moderator concluded by encouraging further action by the individuals in this conference with collaboration between public and private sectors and working together to implement new ideas on how to create change for all Egyptians.