Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1135, 14 - 20 February
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1135, 14 - 20 February

Ahram Weekly

Social media

Demonstrations not succeeding

On Facebook and Twitter Egyptians have been intensely debating the efficacy of the continued protests against President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. The discussions indicate that the opposition has lost the support of a large portion of public opinion, as Mohamed Kadri said on his Facebook account. Kadri argued that the daily protest of unclear and unrealistic demands have caused the National Salvation Front (NSF) — the main opposition body — its popularity, as public opinion now knows that it is weak and has no control over its supporters.

However, Alaa Mahmoud responded to this argument by saying that the NSF is only part of the opposition and that most Egyptians who opposed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are not affiliated to any political group.

“People fed up with political parties and youth movements took to the street to protest for economic and social demands so why do we accuse the NSF of being weak while all the state’s institutions are weak?” Mahmoud asked.

Maged Mustafa went beyond Kadri and Mahmoud, saying that the country’s social, political and economic situation is on the brink and civil war is not far off. “It’s only a few months away if the current circumstances remain the same.”

Abdel-Hamid Ibrahim agreed with Mustafa, saying that it was time for the silent majority to step in and protect the country from internal fights “that have not point”.

“The cost of more escalation of the current situation is too high for the country and the people to afford,” Ibrahim said. “Let’s stop this.”

No easy fix to the economic situation

Farah Halim wrote an analysis on her blog “Rebel Economy” about the current macroeconomic situation in Egypt.

“Two years ago today, Egyptians made history sweeping Hosni Mubarak from power and sending a warning to other dictators across the world.

But as Egyptians and close watchers of the nation are well aware, the country’s political and economic situation is not better than 2011, and has in fact deteriorated in many areas. The numbers speak for themselves.

As the political crisis has deepened, the currency has dipped to such a point that the public has lost faith in the pound and turned to the black market, the jobless rate has increased and the country’s twin deficits in the budget and balance of payments is putting further pressure on the level of GDP growth, which has slowed down to about two per cent. The government is well on its way to exceeding its original deficit target of 7.6 per cent of GDP for this fiscal year.

Foreign direct investment may be in the green, helped by one-off investment deals including France Telecoms of Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, but the level is nowhere near the $4.1 billion in FDI Egypt recorded in the first half of 2010.

Before the crisis, Egypt had been receiving about $1.15 billion a month from tourism, $375 million a month from foreign direct investment and $1 billion a month from worker remittances and other private transfers, according to Central Bank figures.

Remittances, an important source of hard currency, are one bright spot in an otherwise negative outlook. But it is not enough to comfort economists and investors who say Egypt must apply harsh austerity measures for the fiscal situation to improve.

The deterioration in the Egyptian fiscal position is mainly due to rising wage costs and subsidy expenditures. The former has risen by 26 per cent so far this fiscal year compared to the same period last year while the latter is up by a whopping 38 per cent. We suspect that the government has been recruiting more workers and increasing pay in an attempt both to stem the rise in unemployment (which is now higher than before the start of the revolution two years ago) and to quell civil unrest. Particularly worrying is the fact that expenditure on wages and jobs is extremely difficult to pare back.

There is no easy way of getting out of this situation. Egypt will have to impose some level of taxes on the middle class, cut spending on subsidies while enforcing new measures that mean cheap fuel gets to those who most need it, and reform the bloated public sector, where employees are overpaid and inefficient.” 

Tweets

“Twenty-five months of tear gas and counting. Good night.”  @Rawya Rageh

“Morsi is not the problem. He is merely the president of the problem, which is Egypt society itself.” @Lauren Bohn
“When I heard the funny YouTube verdict, I felt like someone saying ‘I sentence you to go to the moon but you have to find a space shuttle.’ ”
@Matt Bradley

“We got rid of a president who does not hear, to have a president who does not understand.”
@Dalia Ezzat

“Ahmadinejad wants to be the first Iranian astronaut. Great, he should take an expert with him to the space. Does he know President Morsi worked for NASA? Please.” @Nancy Okail

“I think US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson has been too incautious in her embrace and praise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the last two years.” @Alaxander Omrani
“This idea that all businessmen or successful people must be fulul (remnants of the former regime) is for the lack of a better word retarded. Why can’t you be a businessman and have values?” @Yasmine Fathi

 

add comment

  
 
 
  • follow us on