Does Egypt lack ideas or resources?

Over the past few decades, consecutive Egyptian rulers have continuously told their citizens that the country’s needs far surpass its resources, accusing the increasing population of consuming most of Egypt’s resources.

In their attempts to narrow the gap between resources and needs, Egyptian rulers tend to rely on regional and international loans and grants (most of the West and the Arab Gulf states are regular donors). However, does the government manage its resources efficiently, providing us with the maximum possible outcomes?

Whereas ideas are always evolving and progressing, the Egyptian government is renowned for its sluggish bureaucracy, and proud of its obsolete notions that do not comply with today’s technological world or with the expectations of citizens.

By default, and regardless of the ruler’s ideology, our government is driven by a handful of bureaucrats who lack the basic faculty of thought, are notorious for their low levels of productivity, and are not held accountable for their shortcomings. Egyptian government bureaucracy regularly rejects citizens’ ideas because its outdated mindset and limited exposure are incapable of accommodating original, innovative ideas.

Known to lack the fundamentals of good governance, Egypt has continuously failed to come up with new ideas that can better address the root causes behind our challenges and enhance our poorly-managed resources. Our recent uprisings have ended in the swapping of a few top executives for new ones who continue to be picked from the same outdated, traditional pool, coupled with a zealous preservation of the same archaic government mindset.

Accelerating project implementation while continuing to follow the obsolete course of increasing project spending, without first evaluating feasibility and misleading citizens with false propaganda, can only result in the rapid failure of any new project.

Failed governance

Egyptian intellectuals affiliated with the ruling regime have been blaming the government for its poor performance while praising the ruler for his vision, completely disregarding the fact that the ruler (and no one else) appoints the government. To illustrate this point, one of the current ruler’s affiliates has said that while the president is riding a rocket, his cabinet members are riding bicycles.

Why has our president not appointed ministers capable of riding the same rocket as he? The sad truth is that he is on board a fantasy rocket, while his cabinet members are cycling through the alleys of actual government bureaucracy.

Prior to embarking on new projects, we need to decide whether there is room to maximize the revenues obtained from our existing resources, such as the Nile River, our beachfronts, tourist resorts, seaports, roads and many more. A quick comparison between privately-managed Nile River boat restaurants and state-managed ones (quality of food, services and profitability) shows the huge advantage that private boat restaurants have over state-owned ones.

The argument is not about expanding or shrinking the role of the private sector (actually, due to their incremental managerial problems and huge losses, most of the remaining public-sector firms are of no interest to investors).

We need to work on dismantling the government’s single-minded thinking mechanism, and replacing it with a mechanism capable of adopting citizens’ ideas and embracing their willingness to bear responsibility for their ideas. It is essential that we corroborate ideas prior to implementing them, rather than run from one failed government project to another, using meaningless justifications to defend our failures.

We must demand that the entire government step down from the task of producing ideas and initiating and managing projects. We must strive to have this mission delegated entirely to the Egyptian people, leaving the task of project regulation and monitoring to the government. We are underestimating the potential of our people (with their diversified experiences and their willingness to shoulder responsibility) for the benefit of power-hungry bureaucrats.

The financial contributions of non-Egyptian donors are highly appreciated, but they should be accompanied by ideas on how best to spend the donated money. Focusing only on using external aid to reduce our financial resource deficiencies will turn us into a dull, thoughtless society.
 

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Mohammed Nosseir is an Egyptian liberal politician who advocates for advancing liberalism, political participation, and economic freedom. Mohammed was member of the higher committee at the Democratic Front Party from 2007 to 2012, and then member of the political bureau of the Free Egyptian Party till mid 2013. Mohammed advocates for his work through providing the Egyptian government with a number of schemes to better reform its government institutes, as well as he is a regular contributor to various Egyptian newspapers. Mohammed also has extensive experience in the private sector, working with a number of international companies assisting them in expanding their businesses in the Middle East. Mohammed graduated from Faculty of Commerce, Ain Shams University, Cairo (1986); he participated at Aspen Seminar on Leadership, Values and Good Society (2011), Eisenhower Fellow, Multi-National Program (2009) and Stanford Fellow for Democracy, Development & Rule of Law (2008).
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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