The first snapshot of the state budget for the FY 2020/21, which is set to begin July 1, came on April 20, when Finance Minister Mohamed Maiet submitted several preliminary documents to Parliament. Key areas in the budget which are classified as social spending — from salaries and subsidies to healthcare and education — had taken a dip or shown weak growth. However, the picture that came with those documents remains a bit blurry, as the budget was prepared between November 2019 and February 2020, before the effects of the pandemic had become acute. And when the minister submitted the budgetary documents, he did not preclude adjustments.
However, the picture from the documents Maiet submitted to Parliament in April is clear enough to suggest that the government will be adopting an “austerity framework” when it comes to social spending, according to Heba al-Laithy, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics’ lead researcher on the 2019 Household Income, Expenditure and Consumption Survey. For Laithy, this can be most clearly seen in the weak or negative growth of allocations for food subsidies and cash payments.