Subsidies to consumer goods, including fuels and food, account for almost one third of Egypt’s public spending. In addition to being an inefficient method of helping the poor, subsidies also represent an unsustainable drain on country’s public finances and its foreign reserves. At the same time, subsidies are a thorny issue in Egypt’s unstable political environment, because they are the main form of social assistance existing in the country.

In his new paper, 'Towards a Reform of Egyptian Subsidies - The Political Feasibility of Unconditional Cash Transfers', Rohac favours an immediate elimination of subsidies and their replacement with a stream of unconditional cash transfers. He argues that conditional cash transfers would be challenging to implement at this stage of Egypt’s development because the vulnerable groups of the population are difficult to identify, and hence cash transfers cannot be targeted effectively.

Speaker 
Dalibor Rohac, Policy Analyst, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute (Washington DC)

Discussants
Adel Al-Toraifi, Editor-in-Chief, Asharq Al-Awsat (London)
Jane Kinninmont, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House (London)
Fiona Samuels, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute (London)

The event will take place as a lunchtime discussion at the Legatum Institute. RSVP is required, details below.

About the Speakers
Dalibor Rohac is a policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity in Washington DC. His work focuses on international political economy and development. Before joining Cato, he was an economist at the London-based Legatum Institute, where he worked on topics ranging from the Eurozone crisis to economic transitions in the Arab world. In addition to publication in scholarly journals, Rohac’s articles have been published in the Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal Europe, Los Angeles Times, American Interest, Weekly Standard, and other outlets. Rohac holds an MPhil from Oxford University, and an MA from George Mason University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London.

Adel Al-Toraifi is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat and Editor-in-Chief of Al Majalla magazine. As a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs his research focuses on Saudi-Iranian relations, foreign policy decision making in the Gulf and IR theories on the Middle East.  Mr Al-Toraifi holds an MSc in International Conflict, and in 2008 he was awarded the International Conflict Prize by the Faculty of Arts and Social Science at Kingston University. Mr Al-Toraifi has recently completed his PhD studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he submitted a thesis on the role of state identity in foreign policy decision-making, focusing on the Saudi-Iranian Rapprochement (1991-2009). 

Jane Kinninmont is a Senior Research Fellow with Chatham House for the Middle East and North Africa Programme in London. Her work focuses on opposition and reform movements in the Arab world, economic policy, political economy and the politics of foreign investment, Egyptian transition and identity politics. Before joining Chatham House, she served as associate director in the Middle East and Africa division of The Economist Group. Her current projects at Chatham House include economics of the Arab Spring, Egypt in transition, and the future trends in GCC countries. Kinninmont’s writings have been published in various journals, including the Guardian, Foreign Policy, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and the Economist. Kinninmont holds a BA (Hons) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University, and an MSc in International Politics from SOAS.

Fiona Samuels is a Research Fellow in social development at the Overseas Development Institute. She is also Research Manager of the Transforming Cash Transfers programme – a DFID-funded study investigating beneficiary and community perspectives on cash transfer programmes in Kenya, Mozambique, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Uganda and Yemen. With 15 years of experience as a social anthropologist, she currently focuses on the linkages between health and HIV and AIDS, poverty, risk and vulnerability with a particular interest on livelihoods, food security, migration, fragilities and access to services. Fiona's experience has included: designing and implementing health and socio-economic surveys, using a variety of approaches and methods; developing, and training in, participatory approaches; facilitating community and participatory based planning, monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes.

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