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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More