Cairo: Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi Tuesday said he would give up half of his wealth and salary for the state, a move seen aimed at prodding the rich to support the country’s battered economy.

“Every Egyptian man and woman should make sacrifices for their country,” Al Sissi said in a televised address at a military graduation ceremony. “I promise you that no official will get more than the maximum wage level of 42,000 [Egyptian] pounds (Dh22,105) per month. This is the time for cohesion, national unity and working for the interests of the country.”

Al Sissi took office earlier this month on a platform based on re-establishing security and revitalizing the economy hammered by more than three years of unrest.

He said Tuesday he had refused to approve a draft state budget for the new fiscal year presented by the government because it envisages a deficit of 288 billion Egyptian pounds or 12 per cent of the gross domestic product and aggregate debts of LE2 trillion.

“I ordered the government to revise the new draft budget because Egypt needs to take urgent measures to curb debts,” said Al Sissi, who temporarily holds the legislative power.

His gesture has drawn instant applause. “His moves send a strong message about the need for social justice,” said Waheed Abdul Majid, an expert at the state-run Al Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies. “There are many Egyptian businessmen, who have amassed their wealth at the expense of ordinary Egyptians. Now they have to stand by their country to overcome its economic crisis.”

The ultra-conservative Salafist Al Nour Party, who supported the army’s removal of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi last year, described Al Sissi’s move as an “unprecedented presidential initiative”.