The cabinet has decided to increase social solidarity pensions for low-income citizens by 50% starting January 2014, a statement from the cabinet said.
Ministry of Social Solidarity spokesman Hany Mehanna said that the pensions will be directed toward 1.4 million families who have no source of income.
Mehanna said the value of the pension is EGP 300 for each family, and will reach EGP 450 after the increase.
Studies are being conducted to determine those eligible for support, Mehanna added.
The government’s decision includes forming a ministerial committee to suggest policies and programmes which aim at improving the performance of social safety nets. The committee will also monitor the implementation of such policies.
The committee will be comprised of Deputy Prime Minister and the ministers of Finance, Planning, Social Solidarity, Supply and Administrative Development.
“This initiative will target the poor and ensure supporting those who are deserving [of pensions],” the statement said, adding that the committee will avoid policies that are tapped to serve the rich.
According to state-run news agency MENA, Hazem El-Beblawi said in a press conference following the Thursday cabinet meeting that the state budget will finance the EGP 1.2bn increase in pensions.
Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa El-Din said that the total amount of funds allocated for social solidarity pensions in the previous year’s state budget ranged between EGP 4.7bn and EGP 4.8bn, according to MENA.
Dalia Mousa, the head of the media division at the Egyptian Center for Social and Economic Rights, expressed her dissatisfaction with the government’s overall socioeconomic decisions, which she said appear to be important, “but on the ground, nothing was achieved”.
Since the current government gained power in July after the removal of former President Mohamed Morsi, it has emphasised the achievement of social justice. Over the last few months, the government has moved to implement maximum and minimum wage laws for public workers, which are set to be in effect this month.
Mousa stressed that achieving social justice would require an inclusive system, one that should address the concerns of private sector workers as much as those belonging to the public sector.
In October, the government decided to increase the pensions of government workers by 15%, effective beginning January 2014.
In an attempt to alleviate the financial burden on citizens, the interim government issued a decision in September to exempt public school students from paying the tuition fees this year, which the Minister of Education said would cost the government EGP 700m.
Public expenditure for wages and compensations comprised EGP 141bn of the state’s budget in the fiscal year 2012/2013, representing a 14.8% increase from the preceding year.