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Social Justice between Challenges Reality and Inevitability of Confrontation

In February, the world celebrates the International Day of Social Justice, which came this year under the slogan “Overcoming Obstacles and Unleashing Opportunities for Social Justice”, with the aim of strengthening dialogue with member states of the United Nations and allowing more consultation with civil society institutions, youth and governments and United Nations entities to support the social contract.

The Strategic Forum for Public Policy and Development Studies publishes a policy paper on social justice in the belief in the importance of building a just and concerted society capable of guaranteeing citizens’ right to a dignified life through the following themes:

First: the concept of social justice and its importance

Second: Social justice in the Egyptian constitution

Third: State efforts to achieve social justice

Fourth: the challenges of achieving social justice

Fifth: Proposed paths towards achieving social justice

 First: the concept of social justice and its importance

The beginning of the use of the term “social justice” dates back to the French Revolution, when Paris emphasized the rights of people to enjoy this justice and the necessity of dividing wealth while getting rid of feudal rule. This expression then continued with a number of definitions that varied in time during the industrial revolution in Europe in the eighteenth century with the workers’ class suffering from the cruelty of the capitalist system.

With the development of human societies, the concept of social justice crystallized, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the decision of the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, established the humanitarian principles of social justice in its first and second articles, and the International Labor Organization drafted its constitution, which it placed in its preface that “ Peace can only be achieved if it is based on social justice.

A number of sociologists affirm that the concept of social justice means creating an intellectual system, an ethical approach, and legislative provisions that guarantee all persons complete equality before the law and access to all rights, while other scholars believe that social justice is a fundamental entitlement of man stemming from the fact that he has the right to Enjoying a set of social, economic and political rights as basic human rights and an integral part thereof.

Social justice, therefore, can be said to be a system aimed at eliminating significant social and economic disparities between strata of society and ensuring individuals’ cooperation in a united society in which everyone has equal and effective opportunities.

Second: Social justice in the Egyptian constitution

Successive Egyptian constitutions have addressed the topic of social justice and have in some way stipulated it from the 1923 Constitution to the 2014 Constitution, but the latter’s texts highlight the concept of social justice in an unprecedented manner. It explicitly obliges the State to achieve social justice and provide social solidarity to ensure a decent life for all citizens. s rights “, and their right to education, health and equal rights and duties as follows:
– Article 8 of the constitution states that “society is based on social solidarity, and the state is committed to achieving social justice and providing means for social solidarity, in a way that guarantees a decent life for all citizens, as regulated by law.”

– Article 9 stipulates that “the State is obliged to achieve equality of opportunity for all citizens, without discrimination”, and article 11 that “the State shall ensure equality between women and men in all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. It shall also provide for the care and protection of motherhood, childhood, breadwinner and elderly women and women most in need.”

-Article 13 of the constitution stipulates that “the state is committed to preserving the rights of workers.” And in Article 17 that “the state guarantees the provision of social insurance services, and every citizen who does not enjoy the social insurance system has the right to social security, in a way that guarantees him a decent life, if he is unable to support himself and his family, and in cases of inability to work, old age and unemployment, and the state works To provide a suitable pension for small farmers, agricultural workers, fishermen, and informal workers.

Third: State efforts to achieve social justice

The Egyptian state began procedures for achieving social justice with an unprecedented legislative and constitutional framework in its history, as we mentioned above. Contributing to the realization of these goals was the awareness of the political leadership that supported these measures and directions and assumed its responsibilities with all courage towards the Egyptian people and worked to achieve their aspirations.

The most prominent measures taken by the state to achieve social justice, based on what the state agencies announced through their websites, and what was mentioned in the report issued by the Media Center of the Prime Ministry, entitled “Where We Were and How We Have Become”. It came as follows:

1- Spending on social protection programs:

Egypt has succeeded in being among the countries that spend the most on social protection programs as a percentage of the gross domestic product, and the first in the Arab world and Africa. It is in the same rank with major countries such as Russia, the United States of America, Australia, Brazil and Argentina, and ahead of other major countries in the field of spending on social protection programs such as China, Canada and Saudi Arabia.

The new presidential decree package for social protection:

On Saturday, March 2, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi issued a package of new social protection decisions, bringing the total social packages within a year to about 3 packages, with the aim of alleviating the severity of the economic crisis on the shoulders of low-income citizens. Approximately 37 million citizens will benefit from the third package, starting from the beginning of April 2023, as follows:

4.6 million citizens work in the state’s administrative apparatus

-10 million citizens are pensioners.

-5.1 million families benefited from the “Takaful and Karama” program, or about 22.7 million citizens.

The decisions were as follows:

-Increasing the minimum wage for the sixth grade and its equivalent to 3,500 pounds per month

-Increasing the minimum wage for the qualitative third grade and its equivalent to 5,000 pounds per month.

-Increasing the minimum wage for state-employed master’s degree holders to EGP 6,000 per month.

-Increasing the minimum wage for state-employed PhD holders to 7,000 pounds per month. Pensions increased by 15%.

-Raising the annual income tax exemption limit from 24,000 pounds to 30,000 pounds annually.

-Increasing the financial categories granted to beneficiaries of Takaful and Karama programs by 25% per month.

Items of expenditure on social protection programmes:

-Total spending on support, grants, and social benefits amounted to about 343.4 billion pounds in 2021/2022, compared to 228.6 billion pounds in 2013/2014, an increase of 50.2%.

-In the budget for the fiscal year 2022/2023, sufficient and appropriate financial allocations were made to support food commodities to ensure the availability of both bread and basic food commodities for about 71 million citizens, at a cost of EGP 90 billion.

-A 4-fold increase in the value of cash support after the implementation of the Takaful and Karama program, which amounted to 20 billion pounds in 2021/2022, compared to 5 billion pounds in 2013/2014. EGP 22 billion has been allocated in the 2022/2023 budget to include 450,000 new families in the solidarity and dignity system.

-The financial allocations for the National Social Insurance Organization have multiplied 6-fold, reaching about EGP 180 billion in the 2021/2022 budget, after it was EGP 29.2 billion in the 2013/2014 budget.

-The per capita allocation on ration cards increased from 15 pounds in 2014 to 50 pounds in 2022, and exceptional support was disbursed from September 2022 to June 2023, adding 100 pounds for the card that includes one family, 200 for the card that includes two or three families, and 300 pounds for more than 3 families.

-3 billion pounds, the cost of disbursing an exceptional monthly allowance of 300 pounds per month for state workers and pensioners
-8 billion pounds annually, the cost of increasing the personal tax exemption limit on income for all workers in the state and the private sector, to reach 30 thousand pounds annually instead of 24 thousand pounds, an increase of 25%.

-The cost of fixing service fees due to the failure to implement the plan to increase electricity prices during the current fiscal year amounted to about 43 billion pounds.

-3 billion pounds is an additional cost borne by the state treasury to continue disbursing the social protection package prescribed by ration cards for 10.5 million families until June 30, 2023.

-9 billion pounds is an additional cost for the continuation of the decision to stabilize electricity prices for homes for an additional 6 months, until June 30, 2023.

Beneficiaries of social protection programs

-The number of beneficiaries of the latest package of social protection decisions (March 2023) reached about 37 million citizens.

– the number of beneficiaries from the bread system has reached 71 million, and 62.8 million beneficiaries from the catering system.

-The number of families benefiting from cash support programs has more than tripled after the launch of Takaful and Karama, reaching 5.2 million families in 2022, compared to 1.7 million families in 2014.

-The number of citizens who were treated through the presidential initiative to eliminate waiting lists increased to reach about 147 thousand cases in 2022, after their number was 78 thousand cases in 2014.

-6.8 million Beneficiaries of the health care program for those unable to hold Daman, Takaful and Karama pension cards.

Procedures and decisions to provide a decent life for citizens:

-Increase the allocation of health in the 2022/2023 budget to reach 310 billion pounds, up 34.4 billion pounds from the 2021/2022 budget.

– Increase pre-university education allocations by 61 billion pounds to reach 317 billion pounds in the year 2022/2023, higher and university education by 27.1 billion pounds to 159.2 billion pounds, and scientific research by 15.2 billion pounds to 79.3 billion pounds.

– Increase the allocation of food (including school food) with a budget of 2023/2022 to 12.2 billion pounds, an annual increase from the expected results for 2021/2022;

– Increase transport and transit allocations by the 2023/2022 budget to 4.9 billion pounds, an annual increase of 6.8%, and water allocations to 2.7 billion pounds, an annual increase of 11%.

Economic Empowerment Efforts:

-The government provided 43.8 billion pounds to finance 1.8 million projects by the Small and Micro Enterprises Development Authority, which provided about 2.8 million job opportunities until November 2022.

-The state has also funded 26.9 thousand projects from the Local Development Fund at a cost of EGP 184.8m, in addition to financing more than 200.7 projects under the Mashrak program at a value of EGP 25.6bn, which provided nearly 2 million job opportunities until the end of November 2022.

-Loans amounting to 87 billion pounds were also provided for social and investment activities funded by Nasser Social Bank, which benefited about 20.4 million citizens.

Decent health care

A plan was drawn up to promote the health insurance organization to be implemented through 6 phases. The first phase was in Port Said, Ismailia, Luxor, South Sinai and Aswan at a total cost of 51.2 billion pounds and benefited more than 5 million citizens.

More than 17 million medical and treatment services have been provided through the medical facilities of the Public Authority for Health Care, and more than 270,000 surgeries have been performed under the umbrella of comprehensive health insurance since the system was implemented.

The state also launched 16 health initiatives with a total of 152.1 million visits by citizens until June 2022, most notably the presidential initiative to eliminate waiting lists for critical interventions in 2018, benefiting 1.5 million citizens who underwent surgeries, in addition to launching the presidential initiative to eliminate virus C and detect non-viral diseases. In force in 2018, 61.6 million citizens benefited from it, and they were examined nationwide, and 4 million citizens were provided with free treatment.

The vision of international institutions for social work in Egypt:

The World Bank confirmed that the Egyptian economic reform program was accompanied by great efforts to expand the scope of social protection programs to include social safety nets and increase the quantities of food commodities on ration cards, praising the “Solidarity and Dignity” program for cash transfers.

The United Nations: The international organization believes that the political leadership launched the “Decent Life” initiative, which contributed to improving the living conditions of the poorest rural communities in terms of adequate housing, sanitation services, clean water, education and health.

The International Monetary Fund: In its recent statements, it affirmed that it welcomes the measures taken by Egypt in order to expand the targeted scope of spending on social protection, especially in light of the international crises, to absorb external shocks.

The Economist emphasized that Egypt provided lessons to different countries in their struggle against hepatitis C and their treatment of the “C” virus by implementing a national examination and treatment program for the largest number of the population in a short period.

Fourth: the challenges of achieving social justice

The state is still facing many challenges that impede the effectiveness of these programs, foremost of which are:

1- Corruption: Egypt fell 3 places in the Transparency International Anti-Corruption Index for the year 2022, to rank 130 out of 180 countries, after it was in the 127th position in 2021. This index measures the evaluation of countries through levels of public sector corruption, based on 13 Benchmark and survey of experts and executives.

2- The low level of individual income: The low incomes of Egyptians pose a major challenge to social protection actions and programmes, as they are not commensurate with higher prices and inflation rates.

3- The support system: There is no doubt that the Egyptian state has taken a big step by providing cash support to the deserving groups, but the commodity and in-kind support system needs to raise its efficiency and link it to the real needs of citizens.

4- The weak role of the media in promoting the concept and means of achieving social justice and consolidating its values among citizens. The responsibility of achieving social justice in the media lies in educating society about its multiple dimensions.

5- Illiteracy constitutes a major obstacle to achieving social justice in the Egyptian society, as the increase in illiteracy rates means an increase in unemployment rates, a widening of the circle of poverty, and a decrease in the quality of life of citizens, which thus impedes the achievement of any tangible progress towards achieving social justice.

. Proposed pathways towards social justice

In order to achieve greater social justice in Egyptian society in the light of Egypt’s Vision 2030, we recommend the following:

1- Fighting corruption in all state institutions as a national goal in which the state cooperates with citizens through policies and procedures in which the citizen feels the importance of his role in controlling corruptors and combating corruption in general, and material and moral incentives can be given to citizens who expose all aspects of corruption in state institutions.

2- Developing an integrated mechanism for monitoring and evaluating the national anti-corruption strategy in order to measure the progress made in implementing action plans.

3- Reformulating the subsidy system and ensuring that subsidy reaches those who deserve it accurately.

4- Establishing an accurate database that includes the data of the marginalized groups, the most needy, and the beneficiaries of the revenues of social protection programs.

5- The shift to conditional cash support in exchange for the “commodity” in-kind support system, especially since it ensures that support reaches those who deserve it and contributes to controlling the structure of public spending and state expenditures.

6- Increasing the allocation from the state budget for the education and health sectors, expanding the construction of government hospitals and schools, and increasing the number of qualified teachers. It is also possible to increase the number of distinguished experimental and experimental schools, which may be a haven for children of the middle class, with appropriate educational expenses


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