Egypt's president has rejected criticism that the military is being distracted from its core duties by further involving itself in the economy.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi also dismissed suggestions of military mismanagement on Monday, saying he and Egypt's defense minister personally approve all spending.

Seeking to reassure Egyptians, el-Sissi said the military could deploy across the entire country in six hours if necessary.

Since its 2013 ouster of elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's military has broadened its economic role by supervising massive infrastructure projects as well as its retail network, which distributes food at discounted prices.

The debate over the military's role in the economy recently moved center stage when it announced its intention to directly import baby formula to counter shortages.