OPED: “How can I get a job in my beloved Egypt?”
Yesterday, President Mohamed Morsi’s son Omar took to Facebook and echoed what tens of millions of young Egyptians have been lamenting for years:
“The question remains, how can I get a job in my beloved Egypt?”
The difference of course was he wasn’t actually decrying Egypt’s lack of jobs, but the lack of one job for him… It seems young Mr. Morsi was offered a job with the Egyptian Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation worth an alleged “LE35,000 to LE40,000 per month” and had to turn it down because, well… that whole LE40,000 per month part and a seemingly accurate nepotism charge.
But the sentiment remains: How can young Egyptians get a job in their beloved country?
One might think that today’s Reuters interview with Hassan Malek on the economy might answer that question given his impressively long title: Chairman of the Egypt Business Development Association and a senior informal adviser to President Mohamed Morsi.
One would be wrong.
Instead, Mr. Malek provided a long list of non-transparent excuses, complaints, speculations, wishful thinking and one gem of an idea while answering questions about Egypt’s economic decline:
Hassan Malek… told Reuters the government had begun steps to cut the budget deficit and stabilize the country’s finances, but tougher measures would have to wait until after parliamentary elections expected in April.
Translation: The Muslim Brotherhood is putting politics ahead of fiscal reforms. They’d rather win more power in Parliament than hold a national dialogue about cutting the budget and raising taxes and prices. Egypt got a brief glimpse of what this looks like when President Morsi decreed, and then un-decreed (at 2:00 AM on Facebook), massive tax hikes back in December.
Strategic flaw: Those expected April elections coincide with the timeframe most economic experts expect Egypt’s cash reserves to run out: April.
“Normal people in the street now understand that there is a price that we will have to pay for the IMF agreement.”
Exactly which “normal people” are Mr. Malek talking about? There has been exactly zero discussion about the details of the government’s plan pertaining to the IMF loan other than what appeared on Facebook for approximately eight hours back in December.
Suggestion: Pick any street in Egypt and ask the first 50 Egyptians you see what they understand about the “price” we will have to pay for the IMF loan. I dare you.
… Asked whether he expected a further depreciation of the Egyptian currency to help exports and tourism, he said: “I’m not of course a technical (expert) but people expect a little bit of devaluation in the future”…
Malek said the economy was going through a very difficult period because the transition to democracy launched by the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak was not yet complete and institutions were not working fully.
Political turmoil has severely hit tourism, a major foreign currency earner, and many wealthy Egyptians are keeping their money abroad rather than investing in their country.
Ah yes, the blame game. Of course, the Muslim Brotherhood government has not been at all to blame for said turmoil.
“The Egyptian economy is not going to collapse,” he said. “The real problem is the delay in building constitutional democratic institutions. That’s why the present government feels it is temporary and of course we know we are in a transitional period.”
NOTE: “I’m not of course a technical (expert)…” above.
And then there is the best part – bring back the corrupt Mubarak cronies!
Malek, who was imprisoned under Mubarak with top Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat el-Shater, his friend and business partner, said he was actively trying to persuade wealthy Egyptians to return and invest in the country.
Asked if he was personally involved in trying to persuade billionaires who have left Egypt and had their assets frozen or been convicted of economic crimes to come home, he said “Yes. I am inviting everyone to come to Egypt. It is very important to prioritize legislation and court cases should be solved first… before these people come back.”
Malek confirmed he was in contact with former Mubarak-era trade minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid, a respected liberal economist and businessman who fled to the United Arab Emirates during the uprising, and would like him to return to Egypt.
Rachid was sentenced to five years in jail and fined $1.57 million in absentia in 2011 for profiteering and squandering public funds. Several such sentences have recently been annulled on appeal and retrials ordered.
Great plan. Bring back the crooks. We will profiteer and squander our way to success. Insha’Allah.
Which brings us back to young Omar Morsi’s original question: How can young Egyptians get a job in their beloved country? Does the Muslim Brotherhood government even have a jobs plan?
Naturally with the looming economic catastrophe ahead, one would think the opposition National Salvation Front would be poised with detailed plans to create jobs, reinvigorate the economy and lead Egypt into the future by sweeping the upcoming Parliamentary elections…
One would be wrong.