Commentary on WSJ Article Titled:
The Missing Ingredients
After 23 years of stagnation and confused economic policies, the regime in 2004 started to introduce some liberal economic policies which the liberal opposition has been demanding for many years. This may have been too little and too late. The effectiveness of such economic "reforms" is very low because:
· Lack of political reforms. Economic reform must be accompanied by political and social reforms to work.
· The regime's legitimacy has eroded to critically low levels. The regime only survives by relying on the Security forces.
· Absence of an overall vision with any level of local support. Egyptians are in a state of despair and confusion. People feel lost. They see no direction or future. The only hope for most is to immigrate or find a job in the gulf.
· Zero level of trust between the people and the regime
· Zero credibility which the regime has - people heard so much for so many years, why should they believe it now
· Wide corruption, abuse of power, monopolies within the regime and in the ranks of the very same people who are supposed to be introducing reform policies and legislations.
· Lack of legislative or administrative reforms.
· High level of bureaucracy and the very slow tempo of doing business with the government which still controls every aspect of life.
· Egyptians live in the Parallel State, the informal economy, parallel education, parallel justice, parallel medical care, parallel security, parallel political organizations, etc. Etc. Etc. This has rendered the formal state of little relevance.
The NDP has managed to give "liberal" policies a BAD name amongst Egyptians who now think that Liberalism is equal to business people manipulating the political scene to advance their lucrative monopolies. In light of current affairs, Egyptians has come to see privatization as means for the regime to "sell out" State-owned assets which are being given away at a fraction of their value to front-men, protégés and those willing to pay the highest bribes or commissions.
I am in opposition. In fact I am the head of the executive board in El Ghad Liberal Party. I even ran the Presidential Campaign for our party in Egypt’s first ever multi-candidate presidential elections in 2005 where our candidate, Ayman Nour came second. I, however, wrote in Al Masry Al Youm Daily, Egypt’s leading independent paper, in support of Ahmed Nazif’s policies in 2004 and 2005. I even wrote in El Ghad newspaper also supporting Nazif’s economic reforms. Simply because we had drafted many of these reforms in our own party agenda published in 2003. I even wrote in Al Masry Al Youm in 2005 about Gamal Mubarak, basically saying, yes, his position as a son of the President realistically allowed him to introduce some reforms, but this very fact is a sign of the inadequacy of the political system and the regime. Gamal may be a promising strategist, but if only the son of the President can advance certain policies, this is no longer a republic.
What needs to be done at the moment is to create a dialogue immediately and reach consensus not on economic policy, but on how to install a political process. This has a higher priority for the sake of medium-term stability which is a necessary condition for any economic reform to happen or continue to happen.
See Original Article By: Yaroslav Trofimov