News / Middle East

Transforming Egypt's Economy, Military Daunt Morsi

Waleed Ahmed el-Sayed, 31, who received a BA in social services from Assyiut University in 2004, sells juice in Cairo'sTahrir square, May 4, 2012.
Waleed Ahmed el-Sayed, 31, who received a BA in social services from Assyiut University in 2004, sells juice in Cairo'sTahrir square, May 4, 2012.
Elizabeth Arrott
CAIRO – Two of the biggest challenges facing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi are improving the economy and countering the entrenched interests of the nation's military. The two are deeply entwined.

Morsi is under pressure to move quickly to create some tangible improvement in the daily lives of his fellow Egyptians, who are suffering from high unemployment, rising prices and shortages in basic commodities.

Economists have been encouraged by the economic platform pushed by Morsi, based on the Muslim Brotherhood's Renaissance Project.

"They clearly subscribe to a free market economy and they clearly appreciate private ownership," said Magda Kandi, executive director of the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies. "But they would like to complement this with the kind of rules and regulations that would streamline the operations, so we would not be running into problems similar to what we had before the revolution when the fruits of the growth were not well distributed."

As uneven as the distribution of wealth was under the old government, the interim period of military rule may have been even worse. Uncertainty and unrest kept both foreign tourists and investment at bay, hurting millions who relied on related industries.

"We actually suffered under the military rule because of lack of stability, we were hoping that under a military regime, in the transitional period, that stability would be better enforced, and security would be better enforced such that the economy would do better than what we did," said economist Kandil.

The election of Morsi boosted Egypt's economic prospects, with the stock market rising on news of his victory and the prospect that, for now, protests will subside.

But tensions remain between the elected government and the military, which has claimed for itself considerable new powers including oversight of defense and the budget.

Those two powers go to the heart of the military's concerns. Estimates vary on the extent of the military's economic enterprises, which range from mining to microwaves, pavement to pasta. There are no official figures, but former diplomat and presidential candidate Abdullah al-Ashaal puts it as high as 40 percent of the Egyptian economy.

"This economic institution inside the army is making the army another state within the state itself. So we have virtual state which is called Egypt, we have a real state that is called army. So this cancer has to be removed. Otherwise I don't think any democracy can be established," said al-Ashaal.

This backbone of the economy may not be as bad as some would make it out. Economist Kandil says that over the decades, the military has proved itself efficient in terms of meeting deadlines, effective management, and affordable prices for ordinary Egyptians. But as the nation moves forward, some people are questioning this decades-long arrangement.

"They are concerned about the implications of this share, the large share owned by the military, and if the military is to be squeezed out of the political process, which one would expect in a democratic environment, what are the implications for their shares in the economy and whether they would be willing to yield to the democratic process," said Kandil.

From the actions of the military so far in this transition, it would seem Egypt is destined to remain a mixed economy for some time.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 03, 2012 3:22 PM
The army is only afraid of what is going to happen soon under the Muslim Brotherhood to Egypt - that is all the reluctance to leave, otherwise every army knows what role it should play in a democracy. It was the premonition of Morsi's victory that made the army swing into action. Egypt dese3rves to be saved, and the army is ready to do it. If there is anything Egypt needs so urgently, it is to be saved from the stupidity of the Arab Spring and the Muslim Brotherhood.

by: Anonymous
July 02, 2012 11:07 PM
Multi-dimensional uncertainties can be minimized only by a compromise between President Morsi and the SCAF on certain basic issues: President Morsi should accept the dissolution of the recently elected Parliament / Peple's Assembly / National Assembly. The SCAF should accept the authority of the president (and his appointed Prime Minister) to appoint (and dismiss) ALL ministers including those for Defense, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Information. The President and the SCAF should agree to hold elections -- within a month or two -- for a single-house Parliament -cum-Constituent Assembly charged with making the the Constitution within a year for the 21st Century Egypt.

Hopefully, a new political party preferably under the leadership of Dr. ElBaradei will emerge and participate in the elections for the new Parliament -cum- Constituent Assembly with a clear promise and commitment during the election campaign that it will propose a Constitution unambiguously based on the principle of separation of religion from the management of common educational, political, civic, State and international affairs. Given the growing maturity of Egyptian voters, it is very likely that such a party will win a significant majority of seats of the Parliament-cum-Constituent Assembly.

by: Anonymous
July 02, 2012 4:53 PM
Morsi's biggest challenge is turning the country into a democracy, but apparently people are forgetting that. His goal should be to give up some power, not to assert it.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs