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Egypt’s industries call on government to intervene and help

Company directors are calling on the government to intervene to help them overcome the fallout from measures put in place to try and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Egypt’s marble industry is facing a crisis since demand has fallen and exports have been suspended. Domestic demand has gone down after several major projects, including construction of the new administrative capital, were suspended until next year.

The Federation of Egyptian Industries has said that up to 100,000 people in this sector could be made redundant.

The federation has called on the government to exempt companies from paying, or to reduce, electricity bills and taxes so they can continue to pay the salaries of their workers.

Transport companies have also called on the government to intervene since revenues have fallen by more than 75 per cent after the curfew was put in place and schools, universities and many work places shut their doors.

Minister of Manpower Mohamed Saafan has announced that half a million people are not eligible for a grant stipulated for informal workers affected by the corona crisis including those receiving a pension or those who own agricultural property.

According to Saafan, 2 million people applied and 1.5 million of them will receive the grant.

Egyptian workers have complained they have not seen any of the promised benefits, whilst others have said they have no idea how to apply for the online scheme.

Because this money has not materialised, there have been reports of workers breaking the curfew to go to work since many are struggling to feed their families and pay rent. Even those who have received the money say the promised 2,000 Egyptian pounds ($127) a month is not enough to cover their bills.

Workers in the informal sector, about two thirds of Egypt’s population, are the most vulnerable of Egypt’s workers since they have no social benefits or labour protections.

There are around 3,333 officially reported cases in Egypt and 250 deaths though given the crackdown on reporting on the virus, it’s thought that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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