Sisi’s spare change initiative suspended due to legal obstacles

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's proposed initiative for donating spare change has been suspended, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on Wednesday.

The Central Bank of Egypt and the Egyptian Banking Union were due to study mechanisms for the implementation of the initiative; however, informed sources revealed that legal obstacles prevented the completion of the initiative, which aims primarily to fund development projects in lower-income and informal housing areas.

The total donations to the Long Live Egypt Fund (Tahya Masr) amount to LE7.5 billion. The Fund management recently donated LE200 million to establish Zewail university.

In cooperation with the Social Solidarity Ministry and Nasser Social Bank, the Fund focuses on providing loans for microprojects that empower women and create job opportunities for young people, said Executive Director of the Fund Mohamed Ashmawy.

The interest rate on these loans has not been settled, but will be lower than that of the prevailing market interest rates, ranging between 27 and 30 percent, he said. LE250 million in funding from Tahya Masr was allocated to finance the initiative, as well as the same amount from the state budget through the Finance Ministry.

Ashmawy revealed a proposal to submit a request to the Central Bank to obtain a loan of LE500 million at a simple interest rate in order to support Nasser Social Bank's ability to loan.

Nasser Social Bank is a government bank, affiliated to the Social Solidarity Ministry.

In September 2016, Sisi called on Egyptians to support the economy by donating their "spare change" to fund national projects.

During the inauguration of the Bashayer al-Kheir housing project in Alexandria's Gheit al-Enab area, Sisi called on bank officials to find a mechanism to collect small change from banking transactions in a bank account that would be used to implement service projects.

"Change — 50 piastres and one pound — in transactions can be put into an account for projects and services," Sisi said.

Since taking office in June 2014, Sisi has already suggested two initiatives to support the economy: the Tahya Masr fund, and the "Say Good Morning Egypt and Donate a Pound" initiative.

This new initiative has been dubbed "Leave your Change in the Banks".

The Tahya Masr fund was originally launched in June 2014, but in February 2016 Sisi called on citizens to donate one pound each morning their using mobile phones. Telecom Egypt and other telecommunications companies allocated lines for the donations through SMS.

When Sisi announced the launch of the Tahya Masr fund, he also said he would donate half his LE42,000 salary, and half his wealth to support the economy. A week later, the fund was established by the presidency.


Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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