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Egypt’s economic woes | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Everyone in Egypt is talking politics, whilst very few are seriously concerned with the economic situation of the country.

The economic situation in Egypt, in terms of figures, reveals a decline in the Egyptian Central Bank’s cash reserves from $38 billion on the morning of 25 January 2011, to just above $10 billion at the beginning of this week!

If we assume that reserves of $6 billion are required to cover Egypt’s already outstanding international obligations, then this means that the amount available to the Egyptian treasury today is $4 billion, and this is for a population that exceeds 85 million, most of whom live below the poverty line and suffer from poor public services.

This is happening whilst the unemployment rate has risen from 8 to 15 percent, according to the estimates of some NGOs. It is also happening at a time when the resilience of the Egyptian pound against the US dollar could collapse due to the pressures of the economic downturn and the decline in central reserves of foreign exchange.

Millions are talking about the revolution, the clashes over the nomination of candidates for the presidency, and the discussions on talk show programs – day and night – about controversial issues, but which are trivial in content. It seems everyone is in a state of serious concern but in the wrong areas. The Egyptian treasury is completely empty and the country is on the brink of bankruptcy!

Here one might say: Remittance from Egyptians based abroad is increasing, the Suez Canal revenues are rising, the proposal to sell dollar bonds to the Egyptians is an appealing one, and Saudi Arabia this week promised to deposit $1 billion into the Bank of Egypt.

These may indeed by positive signs, but they do not solve the problems or meet the aspirations of millions of Egyptians who want immediate solutions to their problems, and for their dreams to be realized now, not tomorrow.

Yet the problems of Egypt cannot be solved through non-productive elements that do not benefit the Egyptian citizen.

The economy develops in any state when domestic rates of production begin to rise, which in turn supports the local market and can restore foreign exports. This is the economics that we learned about in books, the economics that we studied at university.

I would say that the next President of Egypt is facing an unenviable task; he will be written about in years to come with a sense of misery, as one who embarked upon a near-impossible project of financial and economic recovery amidst a historic era whereby the whole world was suffering from a severe, unprecedented crisis!

If the next Egyptian President devotes himself to talking only about politics, then he will wake up one morning to provide the 300 million loaves of bread that are needed daily, only to find that each loaf now costs 6 times as much!

Surely this thought alone is enough!