Newly-Formed Government to Raise Public Sector Salaries

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Public sector salaries and pensions are set to increase by 15 per cent in April following an announcement by the newly-formed Egyptian government. Finance Minister Samir Radwan said increasing allocations for civilian and military pensioners will cost the treasury 693 million euros.

Radwan also said that the cabinet’s legislative committee had approved the launch of a 619 million euro fund to compensate those affected by looting and vandalism during two weeks of anti-regime protests.

The stock exchange is due to open on Sunday two weeks after it closed following a massive drop in share prices. On 27 January billions of euros were wiped off shares in just 48 hours.

The largescale street protests in Egypt over the past two weeks have badly effected the country’s economic life. On Sunday, banks re-opened although schools still remain closed.

Meanwhile, thousands of protesters were still occupying Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday, despite government talks with opposition parties the previous day. Some of the demonstrators slept under the tracks of army tanks to make sure they did not move in to the square to disperse the protest.

One person was injured on Monday morning when four rockets were fired at a police station in Rafah, on the border with Gaza. It was not clear whether the attack was linked to the protest movement or not.

On Sunday, the groups of young people who started the protest movement announced the formation of a coalition and vowed not to leave the square until President Hosni Mubarak resigns.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups held talks with the government on Sunday, but declared the government’s offer did not go far enough.

Mohamed ElBaradei told US television channel NBC that he had not been invited to the talks.

US President Barack Obama called again on Sunday for an ordered transition to begin immediately.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said his country would not pay attention to “diktats” from other countries.

He also accused foreign diplomats of trying to bring in arms and telecommunications devices in diplomatic suitcases. Authorities at Cairo airport began screening incoming and outgoing diplomatic pouches on Monday.

“It has been noticed of late that some foreign embassies in Cairo have tried to bring some weapons and communications equipment in diplomatic bags, relying on the principle of immunity,” the ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

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