Prime Minister Hisham Qandil (Photo: AP)

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil (Photo: AP)

It was an Ahram headline for the ages: Tax rises aim at social justice: Egyptian PM Qandil. 

Exactly the kind of headline you dream about when you are running a campaign against an incumbent government. Yes, incumbents in peril, please do explain how you-are-going-to-raise-taxes-and-prices-and-call-it-justice-so-we-can-still-vote-for-you, even though your-plans-will-make-us-even-more-broke… 

“Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said recent controversial tax increases are part of a programme of ‘social justice’ not conditions imposed the International Monetary Fund” – AhramOnline, by Karim Hafez, 11 Dec 2012

Huh? Oh, please Mr. Prime Minister, do continue…

… Qandil criticised what he described as the negative role of private media in portraying recently-announced tax hikes at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

That’s right, blame the media… and by private media, he certainly means ALL of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi owned channels and social media outlets… Because I recall them being a bit outraged by President Morsi’s tax-hiking decree, followed by an unhiking decree posted in the early morning hours on Facebook.

Qandil stated that the new tax hikes on various commodities were implemented to fulfill the main demand of the revolution, namely social justice…

Main demand of the revolution? Having discussed this with several Egyptians who were part of the 18-day uprising in 2011, none of them can quite remember ever chanting “down, down with Mubarak, we demand taxes and prices go up, up, up…”

The tax law will increase the prices of steel, cement, soft drinks and cigarettes and beer.

Surely those tax hikes on steel and cement will include tougher building codes and actual enforcement to stop contractors from using less rebar and poor quality cement, right?

Qandil rejected criticisms by analysts and opposition figures that the new legislation is one of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s conditionalities to approve the proposed $4.8 billion loan…

That’s not what the IMF says (publicly), but please do get back to the ‘social justice’ part…

The prime minister also stressed that the tax law is part of the government’s “economic reform” plan aimed at overcoming the current economic obstacles the country is facing and implementing social justice.  The government announced that the new economic measures included in the new tax law will relieve the country’s liquidity crunch, reduce budget deficits and ease currency depreciation risks.

Ah, yes, ‘social justice’ to solve that pesky “liquidity” crunch… Yet liquid enough to announce the expansion of Maspero, the state-run media propaganda machine?

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi suspended the implementation of tax increases on Monday shortly after they were announced, in reaction to the negative public outcry that followed… The rest of the tax increases will only be introduced following national dialogue, after Morsi’s statements that he will not allow citizens to take on extra burdens without their consent. Qandil added that the new tax law will only be implemented only after a degree of public acceptance is reached.

Yes, the public cannot wait to accept tax increases and price hikes to go along with their stagnant wages and lack of jobs.

A unified opposition front should be having a field day hammering Qandil’s misguided definition of ‘social justice’… and making the Morsi government pay dearly, every single day, for their ongoing destruction of Egypt’s economy… Highlighting their record since taking office: 100 days of nothing… Six months of chaos and power-grabs… and a future of economic ruin and instability.

All an opposition force would have to do is initiate their own grassroots ‘national dialogue’ – directly engaging with poor and working-class Egyptians – to present their plan for jobs and growth and economic justice. A no-brainer, easy to execute, contrast message between failure and hope.

Too bad, there isn’t a unified opposition force with an economic plan. Or any hope.

Get ready for ‘social justice’ Qandil-style… the Opposition is too busy meeting with the Salafis.