Minister of Housing and Urban Communities Tariq Wafiq has said housing subsidies for low income Egyptians is a “right that we cannot afford do away with”.
He made the statement during a meeting of the Shura Council’s Economic and Financial Affairs Committee, under the leadership of Muhamed Abdel Magid, during which housing subsidies for low income Egyptians were discussed as part of a series of debates held regarding the national budget.
Wafiq added that Egypt’s housing crisis was suffering from a quantitative deficit, with 30% of housing units within the country unused or vacant, particularly summer housing units whose high supply and low demand have caused many to go unsold.
The housing ministry has announced that it plans to provide cash subsidies for units, which will be leased out and rented as opposed to being put up for sale, a practice which led many homes remaining vacant.
The idea of providing cash subsidies, he said, was to better recycle state monies, making sure they are received by those who need them most. He added that the details for this policy were still up for discussion.
Under this new policy, small cash subsidies will be provided to renters for a designated period of time, to help citizens pay their rent.
Wafiq called on the Shura Council to support the ministry’s attempts to make such subsidies available to low income Egyptians as part of the new budget.
He admitted that corruption was prevalent in the sector, and that combating it would take time, but at the same time said the ministry was dealing seriously with attempts to reign in its influence. The minister said that responsibility for Egypt’s housing crisis should gradually be placed under the jurisdiction of Egypt’s private sector, with state involvement in subsidies being limited.
Wafiq further expressed dismay at criticism of attempts to develop the Suez Canal Zone, saying that any differences or disputes regarding the project’s implementation were merely cosmetic.
He likened the Sinai Development Authority to a “stillborn baby”, saying it was an agency created without any powers. He added that suggestions were recently made by President Mohamed Morsi to grant the authority the kinds of powers needed to effectively carry out the responsibilities entrusted to it.
With regards to the “My Son, Your House” programme, Wafiq said the idea was good but that its implementation was “random and uncoordinated”, and that the project’s administration committed a number of mistakes on the ground causing it to become “distorted”.