Speed up privatization says businessman

Abdel-Rahman Hussein
3 Min Read

More time and measures needed for Egyptians to feel benefits of reform

CAIRO: The pace of privatization in Egypt must be quicker than it currently is, Mohammed Shafik Gabr, Chairman of the Arab Business Council and Managing Director of the Artoc Group in Egypt said in an interview with The Daily Star Egypt.

Gabr argued that the privatization process in Egypt should be stepped up. “I am ashamed that it takes a year to privatize Omar Effendi, I am ashamed that privatization takes so long.

Omar Effendi is the biggest government department store that had a protracted privatization process last year.

Gabr stated that privatization should be a swift process, with government measures in place after the process to ensure that there is no negative after effect.

Concerning the current pace of reform in the country, Gabr believes that inside the same community, business people, politicians and even journalists have a vested interest in halting reform. This is because they are aligned to the government and the present climate is good for them Gabr said.

Addressing the current concern in Egypt that the fruits of the country’s economic growth are yet to be felt by the average Egyptian citizen, Gabr said that this was due to three factors.

“It takes a sustainability of growth level over four to five years for people to feel it, he said. Additionally, “the government must divest the profits into education and health spending. Finally, we must institute a ‘neighbourhood’ policy, where people who have integrate into their surrounding community. Every capable Egyptian should do the same with their community

Gabr bemoaned the lack of corporate social responsibility in Egypt, but also stated that the government should make it more appealing to businessmen. “Here, charities aren’t tax deductible like in the West. They should be.

In his address at the Arab Competitiveness Roundtable held in Doha last week Gabr stressed the importance of education to alleviate an impending unemployment problem since the skills needed to sustain the economic boom in the region are not widely available.

“We need to completely reform our educational system. [If not] there will be a huge import of skills while there will be high numbers of unemployment, he said, “[Currently] the growth will lead to filling the jobs created from abroad.

Gabr called for risk taking from policy makers and said in a press conference “We have been talking about a unified economic union amongst Arab countries since 1952, before the Europeans. And they have done it and we are still talking.

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