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Public debt overshadows economic future

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It is no secret that the job president-elect Mohamed Morsi has undertaken, reforming Egypt’s long stagnant economy into a working one, will be fraught with hardship.

Hurdles are ever-present, such as a tense relationship with the all-but-ruling military council and countless social problems.

It is no secret that the job president-elect Mohamed Morsi has undertaken, reforming Egypt’s long stagnant economy into a working one, will be fraught with hardship.

Hurdles are ever-present, such as a tense relationship with the all-but-ruling military council and countless social problems.

However, one of the largest and most-overlooked problems is a sizable and steadily mounting public debt.

Just before the uprising, debt had reached around EGP 500bn, and has come to rest at EGP 600bn ($99bn).

It is widely viewed that the debt is a result of Mubarak-era corruption and mismanagement, and that the foreign aid packages received never went to the benefit of the people.

This situation has not gone unnoticed. The Financial and Economic Committee of Egypt’s Shura Council requested on the 11 of June that the United States should forgive Egypt a healthy portion of its debt, amounting to 10 percent of its foreign financial obligations.

The reasoning was that the aid allocated by the US had gone into deep pockets, and resulted in what Chairman Mohamed El-Feki called a “corruption bill worth $3 trillion.”

The world has not stood idly by either. An initiative called the Jubilee Debt Campaign has taken note of Egypt’s predicament.

Based in the UK, it is attempting to lead an investigation into all of Mubarak’s debts and the cancellation of the unjust ones.

In conjunction with the Popular Campaign to Drop Egypt’s Debts, they have discovered documents in the British National Archives that catalogue £100mn of Egyptian debts are based on arms sales to Egypt.

“Egypt’s debt is Mubarak’s debt. It is not the Egyptian people’s.

Egyptians never had a say in the borrowing that was done in their name, let alone borrowing to buy arms,” says Dina Makrab Ebeid, of the Popular Campaign.

On the domestic side, as part of their political campaigns the Brotherhood has drawn up an all-encompassing 100 -day plan called El Nahda, or the Renaissance project, which promises immediate results.

Within its economic section are several free-market policies that would usually attract investor interest, had Egypt’s future not been so unclear, both politically and economically.

Analysts say Morsi has a definite window in which to demonstrate capability and goodwill.

Thanks to his victory, it will be hard for other political actors to obstruct initiatives he wishes to take.

They are almost unanimous in their agreement that a lot of Egypt’s economic future rests on his imminent choice of Cabinet members.

About the author

Ahmed Khalifa

Ahmed Khalifa

News Reporter

Ahmed Khalifa is a work in progress.


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