By: Nermeen Abdel Fattah, Radwa Youssef and Shahenda Kareem
CAIRO, Egypt – An economic debate forum on whether or not to apply minimum wage in Egypt took place on Nov. 6th at The American University in Cairo (AUC), held by the ‘Ekne3ny Shokran’ initiative.
The panel included Manal Metwally, professor of economics at Cairo University, Tamer Wageeh, director of the Social Justice Unit at Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Mohamed El-Sewedy, chairman of the Federation of Egyptian Industries and Alia El Mahdi, a professor of economics at Cairo University.
Metwally and Wageeh were arguing for the government to implement minimum wage soon within the workforce in the governmental sector and in private businesses. However, El Mahdi and El-Sewedy debated that it should only be applied under certain conditions and not before a few years.
In announcing her proposal to increase the minimum wage, Metwally explained that due to inflation in prices minimum income should be implemented to secure a decent life for the citizens and this minimum income should be divided into: minimum wage and social securities.
El Mahdi argued that by implementing the concept of minimum wage in Egypt nowadays would only backfire on the public, as it will be the ultimate cause for the rise in market prices. Before such an ideology is implemented, it is vital for the economy to be stable.
Wageeb stated that 30% of the work force is self-employed and the rest work for others. Half of the 70% earn 30 LE per day supporting a family of four or five living below the line of poverty. However, in developed countries they provide the work force with decent jobs that allows the employee to live a decent life.
An attendee proposed that the government should implement minimum wage per hour, an amount that is suitable to sustain and secure the workers life and allow him to live comfortably.
“Before the debate I was against the motion, because I think that Egyptian productivity doesn’t deserve to raise its wage level, and after the motion I am still against it”, said Jana Abd El Menam, an attendee from AUC.
El-Sewedy said, in a personal interview, ‘the most important thing the market takes the lead when it comes to setting the wages not the government’.