Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala El-Said has participated, via video conference, as a keynote speaker at the Regional High-Level Consultative Forum for Africa.
During the forum, El-Said addressed a high-level round table on international financial accountability, transparency, and integrity to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
The table was attended by Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed; Sudan’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Heba Mohamed Ali; and South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Finance David Masundo.
During her speech, El-Said said that the round table meeting acknowledged the importance of challenging illicit financial flows (IFFs) and corruption. It also seeks to address the devastating impact of IFFs on achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The minister noted that the forum is an opportunity to further enhance collective efforts to enhance financial accountability, transparency, and integrity.
El-Said said that efforts should be focused collectively on bridging the financing gap in the implementation of the SDGs. Countries also need more funding to accelerate their achievement, whilst emphasising the commitment to financial integrity.
The minister said that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic crisis highlighted the importance of stable tax rules to finance comprehensive health care and health systems, and provide social protection networks to ensure livelihoods. She called for the need to address global challenges such as tax evasion to avoid a decline in national revenues. At the same time, this would also see the allocation of corruption and financial crime diversion resources for investment in sustainable development.
El-Said said that tax violations negatively affect the ability for countries to provide basic services, and weaken global efforts to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The minister noted that digital transformation is crucial to achieving a dynamic and sustainable global financial system and digital economy. As part of its various efforts, Egypt has worked to develop the national agenda for sustainable development.
This can be seen in its Vision 2030, which was launched in February 2016 in line with the UN’s SDG national development agenda, in addition to the general framework that governs plans and action programmes.
She also said that Egypt’s Vision 2030 initiative focuses on the importance of transparency, accountability, and integrity as essential pillars to combat corruption and stimulate economic growth. She noted that the initiative is an agile strategy that emphasises cross-cutting issues such as good governance practices, gender equality, and the green economy.
El-Said added that Egypt has implemented a variety of reforms that contribute to increasing transparency, and enhance the effectiveness of government investments. These reforms have been designed to improve the governance of the planning process, reducing wasteful spending and corruption, and maximising benefits.
Regarding the steps to transform into a digital society, El-Said said that work is being undertaken to encourage the use of electronic payment methods and reduce monetary interactions. At the same time, efforts have been made to combat corruption, achieve financial inclusion, and increase the efficiency of the country’s monetary and financial policies. These are alongside facilitating financial settlements, and creating a competitive environment supportive of investment.
El-Said said that the Egyptian government is working to automate government services to reduce human intervention and manual operations. This will take place through automated equipment to speed up the services provided, and reduce the incidence and effects of human error.
The Egyptian government has also sought to strengthen the institutional framework that supports the planning process by establishing specialised units for strategic planning, internal control, and auditing. Additionally, specific units have been set up to enable work on performance information in the planning process and when making budget allocation decisions.
El-Said added that the Ministry of Finance has worked to strengthen transparency over the past five years, which have led to an improvement in Egypt’s ranking in the budget transparency index.
Egypt scored 41 points on the index in 2018, close to the global average score of 42, compared to its score of 16 in 2015, and exceeding the Middle East average of 18 points. Consequently, Egypt ranks 65 globally and third regionally, improving from 89th place in 2015 out of 115 countries surveyed.
Moreover, the Egyptian government launched the Second National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2019/2022, which was recognised by the UN’s General Secretariat as one of the successful practices in combating corruption.
In May 2009, Egypt also became a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a regional body of the Financial Action Task Force, with country-specific reports implemented in October 2018.
El-Said noted that reporting requirements have been set by the Egyptian Tax Authority (ETA) as part of the country’s regulations for transfer pricing documents required of foreign investors.
The minister said that Egypt joined the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) in 2016, bringing the number of its global members to 135.
In November 2019, Egypt presented the Country Self-Assessment Report of the African Peer Review Mechanism along with the National Action Plan for Governance. The report and the Action Plan are in line with the Egyptian Government’s Programme, the UN SDGs, the Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt Vision 2030, as well as the African Agenda 2063.
Recognising the importance of good governance practices for sustainable development, El-Said said that the National Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (NIGSD) focuses on training, research, and advisory services. The NIGSD acts to promote good governance practices, and is responsible for monitoring Egypt’s ranking in various indicators reflecting governance, sustainable development, and competitiveness.