By Islam Serour
The President’s spokesman, Dr Yasser Ali denied rumours about dropping the debts of 62,000 farmers, indicating that the decision is still undergoing study and research.
The rumour originated on the ‘Kolena Wael Ghonem’ (“We are all Wael Ghonem”) Facebook page which stated, “Morsy drops EGP 109 million of debts to the agricultural bank that burden 41,000 farmers.”
Earlier this month, there were also reports that the presidency is leaning toward cancelling the agricultural debts, which amount to EGP 400 million. In addition, there have been rumours that President Morsy tasked the Ministry of Agriculture with preparing a report on the state of the farmers who defaulted on their debts in order to cancel them.
Dr Mohsen El-Batran, Chairman of the Development and Agricultural Credit Bank (DACB), was quoted as saying that there is a draft of the decision to drop the debts of 44,000 farmers who owe less than EGP 10,000 to the (DACB) has been prepared and is awaiting the president’s approval.
The initial plan of the DACB was to divide farmers’ debts into several instalments to alleviate the pressure off of farmers and extend the period of non-prosecution to four month, giving the presidency enough time to study the crisis.
Egyptian farmers are going through tremendously difficult times. They are strained from heavy debts to the DACB, and they suffer shortages in necessary fertilisers and equipment to keep their business afloat.
During his presidential campaign, Morsy pledged to alleviate the burden of Egyptian farmers by dropping all their debts, which amount to EGP 1.9 billion. This figure includes investment debts totalling EGP 520 million, and agricultural debt totalling EGP 400 million. After becoming president, Morsy requested a report from the DACB regarding farmers’ debts in preparation to cancel them. However, he decision has yet to materialise.