Egypt’s new IMF deal comes with a huge price tag for human rights

Egypt’s new IMF deal comes with a huge price tag for human rights

The government of Egypt has sealed a loan deal with the IMF following four years of negotiations. The impacts of the structural adjustment reforms associated with the loan raise strong human rights concerns, particularly for the status of economic and social rights in the country; aggravating employment conditions, the right to education, healthcare and to social protection.
 
The aim of the extended fund facility programme with Egypt is to restore stability and confidence in the economy. To do this, the programme supports the "government's home-grown comprehensive economic reform plan". This plan includes a range of monetary and fiscal reforms that first seek to reduce public spending, including by reforming the civil service and by reducing the public sector's role in the provision of subsidised social services. The second aim of these reforms is to increase state revenue, including by introducing a value-added tax (VAT) and by liberalising the exchange rate to shore up the country's foreign reserves and encourage foreign investment.
 
There are a number of alternative policy choices the Egyptian government can make with the support of the IMF to help address the country's economic crisis. These would avoid such huge social cost and meet international human rights obligations, offering a blueprint for a fair and equitable economic model, as has been affirmed by various UN bodies in recent years.
 
Actions to implement these recommendations could include public efforts to reform and revive the productive capacity of the state, so as to provide the foundation for a development model based on decent work and fair wages. A human rights approach to subsidy reform can also guide the government towards building a social protection model that would effectively contribute to the eradication of extreme poverty.
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