Egypt more than doubled its coverage of cash transfers during the implementation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-supported programme from November 2016 to November 2019, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, said on Tuesday.
Cash transfers reached 2.3m households in Egypt, Georgieva added, noting, “over the past decade, the IMF’s efforts to tackle inequality have become embedded in our surveillance, lending, research, and capacity development work, and that will continue in the decade ahead.”
Egypt’s case is an example of the IMF’s engagements on social spending with countries that offer valuable lessons, Georgieva mentioned, highlighting the Fund’s role in supporting countries in reducing their inequality.
The IMF has also helped Ghana to create room in its budget to increase spending on public education so that Ghana can achieve its goal of universal secondary education, Georgieva mentioned.
“We have advised Japan on developing options for pension reform, so necessary for its aging society,” Georgieva added, noting, “nobody benefits from another glossy report sitting on a shelf. For this reason, we are working to implement our social spending strategy by weaving it into the fabric of our work so our engagement is better tailored to country-specific preferences and circumstances.”
Over the past decade, inequality has become one of the most complex and vexing challenges in the global economy. There is stark inequality in opportunity, inequality across generations, inequality between women and men, and inequality of income. These social disparities are present in society and are unfortunately growing in many countries, she added.
Despite the political difficulty of implementing reforms, growth and productivity are worth the effort, Georgieva added, asserting the importance of utilising digital tools in tax collection to be part of a comprehensive strategy to boost domestic revenue.
“Reducing corruption can both improve collection and increase trust in government. Most importantly, these strategies can secure the necessary resources to invest in expanding opportunities for communities and individuals that have been falling behind,” she added.