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Soaring food prices amid Russia-Ukraine war puts millions worldwide at risk: Maait

Soaring food prices amid Russia-Ukraine war puts millions worldwide at risk: Maait

Arab Finance: Millions of people worldwide are at risk of death due to surging prices of food amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, Egyptian Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait said in an interview with Financial Times.

During his visit to London, the minister warned of global food insecurity, following warnings made by the United Nations (UN) and the Group of Seven (G7) concerning a possible wheat shortage.

The UN secretary-general António Guterres recently said that the Russian-Ukrainian war, along with climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, has put “tens of millions” at risk, commenting that “global levels are at a new high.”

He stressed that Egypt’s reserve of wheat is sufficient until the end of 2022.

“This is something that we have to be very careful about,” Maait said. “We will feel shame if we find that millions of people are dying because of food insecurity. They are not responsible for that, they didn’t do anything wrong.”

Moreover, Maait ruled out the possibility of Egypt falling into recession this year as the country was one of the few to positively grow during the two-year period of the pandemic crisis.

He also expected that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would approve a new three-year funding package that was previously requested by the Egyptian government in March.

Egypt is seeking to “rationalize” bread subsidies as it costs the government over $3 billion every year, Maait noted.

“So as long as the cost of bread and the cost of producing bread increases, so the cost of subsidy on the budget increases. It cannot go like that,” he said, pointing out that adjusting bread subsidies was “not an imminent action,” but “the intention to move is there over a gradual basis.”

Furthermore, he added that the government also planned to improve cash credits received by Egyptian citizens for food, providing lists of eligible to make sure the most needy received them.

The Egyptian Cabinet Media Center had recently denied reports regarding a shortage in Egypt’s strategic reserves of wheat due to instability in the global food market.

It is worth noting that the Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Tarek Amer previously announced that the IMF’s under-negotiation facility to the Egyptian government would be limited.

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