Eight things the interim government can do

Mahmoud Salem
6 Min Read
Mahmoud Salem
Mahmoud Salem

The Egyptian interim government’s performance has been rather disappointing to the population. The current Prime Minister, Hazem El-Beblawi, seems to be only focused on getting more money from Gulf  nations to sustain the current dysfunctional government, rather than actually lead on, well, anything. His government has operated so far to serve one objective: spend money they don’t have to cover subsidies and increased government salaries without offsetting the spending with anything that will increase Egyptian production. This leads us into a horrific case of inflation projected to truly hit us at some point around the middle next year. This doesn’t concern him much, because he knows that the inflation will be the problem of the next government – which he will never be chosen to lead given his performance so far, and that it will be them who will have to face the ire of the population facing an economically apocalyptic situation with no money (he would make sure to have spent it all), inflated prices and a government in serious debt.

Given his government’s lack of any new ideas or initiatives, I am happily donating the following eight suggestions for him to do. In the spirit of anyone can do better than the current PM, these would be some of the things I would do if I were Prime minister of Egypt’s interim government.

Build the bridge between Saudi Arabia and Sharm Al-Sheikh: We all know that the Egyptian economy will never recover as long as the tourism sector is suffering, and that we will need at least five years of stability (ha) to get our European or American tourism back on track, which means we must facilitate a different kind of tourism immediately. So, instead of going to Gulf countries begging for cash to spend, we should meet with the Saudi government to discuss the building of the much delayed Sharm Al-Sheikh-Jaddah Bridge. Not only will it make it easier for Egyptians to go to Saudi for Hajj, it will bring to the struggling hotels and restaurants of Sharm ElSheikh millions of GCC tourists a year.

Stop the practice of asking for marriage certificates of Egyptians in Egyptian hotels: Local hotels are rarely used by young Egyptians for this specific reason. Not only does the management of Egyptian hotels refuse to allow the use of their rooms to unmarried males and females (even if they are in groups seeking a day-use), they will prevent anyone from an opposite gender from coming up to your room, even if they are family. They cite a law protecting public morality as their reason to do so, yet do not treat foreign guests or tourists the same way. Given their ridiculously low occupancy rate at the moment, local hotels could use any guests they can get, and striking down that law would increase their occupancy rate significantly, and help get them through this rough period.

Provide Syrian Refugees with non-permanent legal residency for a fee:  Hating to repeat myself here, but there are 300,000 Syrian refugees in Egypt. If we inform them that they can get an annually renewable legal residency for 5000$ each, that’s $1.5bn the government can make tomorrow and next year. It will also make us look good instead of the horrible press we are getting for the inexcusable horrific things we do to Syrian refugees.

New Egyptian ID card programme: I would announce the creation of an optional new ID card, with bio-metric data, all of one’s government’s documents registered on it, and without the religion identification slot, that Egyptians can get for EGP 500 each. It would resolve a long standing grievance of Copts, Bahaais and secularists, and make the government money at the same time.

A strident law against sexual harassment, and the formation of a female police unit to administer it: It’s about time we had a strong law against sexual harassment, and to bring back women into the police force to make sure it is implemented. I don’t trust our male police to do so at all.

Open up immigration for investors: I would draft a new law giving any foreign investor with half a million dollars legal permanent residency and citizenship after 10 years. If I get 1,000 such investors from any of the neighboring countries that suffer from worse conditions than we currently have (Syria, Iraq, Sudan, etc.) I just brought into the country 5 billion dollars of FDI. You’re welcome.

New bank with bank secrecy laws: The country needs foreign investment and dollars, so I will issue a legislation to create a special bank whose accounts’ secrecy are supreme and can never be investigated, thus turning Egypt into an offshore tax haven country. If I can get deposits of EGP 40bn dollars, the bank will be able to finance a multitude of new private sector projects and investments, and increase the foreign reserves and currency in the country.

Fire and investigate Mohamed Ibrahim: Simply because it’s about damn time.

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Mahmoud Salem is a political activist, writer, and social media consultant. His writings could be found at www.sandmonkey.org and follow him @sandmonkey on Twitter