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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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