CAIRO - The Egyptian president defended on Thursday the tough economic measures undertaken by his government, saying there was no other alternative in the face of the country's deteriorating economy.
"Structural reforms" are an imperative for Egypt, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said, adding that the newly implemented measures are no "picnic."
Al-Sisi's remarks were his first since the government's unprecedented floatation of the Egyptian pound last month, meant to ensure that Egypt qualifies for a 12 billion dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund, which the agency approved almost a week later.
In the move, the pound lost about half its value, plunging to around 18 to the dollar, a huge setback in a country heavily dependent on imports ranging from food items to raw materials. With salaries remaining largely the same, nearly everyone in the already deeply impoverished country effectively had a sudden, large pay cut.
The painful measures earned praise from the IMF and the international business community, but caused price hikes for the cash-strapped population, with al-Sisi risking a serious political backlash.