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Eight things the interim government can do

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 …

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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  • Ahmed Bata

    all that is well and good, but we need to put some effort to curtail the spending part of the equation. The ridiculous amounts spent on food and energy subsidies must be parred back. We need some IMF knowhow. Due to the uninformed and every man for himself mentality pervasive in Egypt right now, it is a given that doing the right thing will make you very unpopular with the masses. Nevertheless, Egyptians need to be told they have no choice but to sacrifice, in order for the future to be better. The riches everyone is after don’t exist, in the hands of the elite, in offshore banks, or anywhere else. The only source of riches is that we can make ourselves, so lets get to it and nurture education, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a business friendly climate that is low on red tape, corruption, and the re-nationalization menace. Austerity measures should be implemented by this government, precisely because it won’t be up for reelections. They should pave the road to make the next gov’t’s efforts easier. Someone needs to stand up and say, “you didn’t earn it, and we can’t afford to underwrite your beggar mentality any longer.” Then maybe people will pay more attention to education and delay having children.

  • Taareq Elsokari

    Creating an OffShore Tax Haven will only increase corruption by members of the business elite and government. It won’t work. People need to know they will be held accountable for any crime they commit, it’s not naive, its pragmatic

    In terms of the biometric cards, thats all well and good but where is the money to fund such a program going to come from. You have put the money up first to build the infrastructure of it before getting the public to buy into it. Also, are you going to make it a compulsary program? If so, what about people who can’t afford the fee? Will they be prosecuted? or will you subsidise it? in which case, where’s the money for that going to come from?

    Charging Syrian refugees $5000 for residency, yeah it will bring in alot of money in theory but in practice it’s cheaper to just deport them than hunting them down and forcing to stump up cash they most likely don’t have (or forcing them to get it an illegal way) and then deporting them anyway for not paying.

    Giving non-married Egyptians free hotel room access in the long term will generate more problems than benefits. It’s not about morality or any of that, but you do realise it will increase usage by “3orfy” or couples hence potentially leading to many unplanned pregnancies which either increases the population even more than it is now or increases money to black market Drs to carry out abortions, either way, the Economy will suffer since it won’t generate any revenue from the Drs carrying out abortions or will have to provide benefits to a bigger population.

    Also, when Morsy’s innefectual government wanted to build the bridge with Saudi wasn’t there an ecological issue with the plan? Also the fear of influx of hardline Wahabis from Saudi destroying the free and liberal tourist destinations of Sharm. I can see it now, a Nakabi sitting Russian Blonde in a Bikini, like that’s going to work

    I do agree with the Sexual Harrassment and the immigration law to an extent. The others are just headline grabbing ego babble we get from governments or people in power

  • Hani Denmark

    1000 investors with half a million dollars each is 500 million dollars and not 5 billion dollars.

  • Maximus

    Mr. Salem, I must say this has got to be your worst article yet! I think you ought to write another and apologize for sounding like a nincompoop! even the female police unit idea, which may sound brilliant at first, upon further review, they may have to either arrest or shoot their male counterparts 1st to be somewhat effective. Peace!

  • Loaii

    Dude. Ma3lesh ya3ny, but this has to be the worst article you’ve ever written.. I normally love ur articles but my face dropped reading this stuff!, come on.. where are the REFUGEES of our Syria brothers going to get $5000 dollars EACH from?! They should be given as much help as we can possibly provide them not suck them dry! Plus.. say goodbye to the Sharm El Sheikh that we love if that bridge is built. We need to keep as many Saudis WELL AWAY from Egypt as possible.

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