How Effective Are International Reform Programs for Egypt?

The relationship between the Egyptian government and various international economic institutes is a very ‘hush-hush’ one; meetings and dialogues that take place between the two parties are often run behind-the-scenes. Egyptian citizens, who will eventually be affected by the implementation of economic measures agreed upon by the two parties, only learn of an economic reform program at the time of its implementation.

Since the Egyptian government doesn’t share its economic goals with its citizens, we are left incapable of assessing the success or failure of the economic program applied.  The government is proud of its economic reform programs when they are praised by international institutes – but it is quick to discredit the competence of the same institutes when they don’t commend these programs enough. Moreover, since the government tends to advocate for its international economic agreements and the opposition rejects them completely, the entire society is left with no clue as to what is truly beneficial to the Egyptian economy.

Egypt has its own cultural dynamics that are completely different to those of other developing nations. Yet most international economic and political institutes that propose various reform programs for Egypt lack a good understanding of Egyptian cultural dynamics that work to either stimulate or deter our society’s acceptance of any given policy. Because they live in isolated lavishness, even foreign experts residing in Egypt cannot comprehend the true-life struggles of Egyptians.

“We anticipated a stronger Egyptian pound,” stated a leading director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that partnered with the Egyptian government to float its currency in November 2016. The outcome of this notion has contradicted their anticipations because the economic scheme applied by the IMF completely overlooked Egyptians’ irrational attitude to foreign currencies and their lack of confidence in their government.

International institutes tend to recommend economic reform policies that have worked well in other countries with similar economic challenges. However, many fundamental factors of other nations’ social dynamics differ from ours. For instance, the Chinese model of running a family business that is based on teamwork and seniority differs completely from the Egyptian model that is based on fragmenting a given family business into smaller individual units to enable each family member to run his own show.

International economic institutes often struggle between endorsing the Egyptian government’s goal to strengthen the State economy and stimulating Egyptian investors’ actual needs by giving them economic incentives that are of more value to the expansion of their businesses. Nevertheless, these institutes have to comply with the Egyptian government’s clear condition: avoiding the establishment of an economic dialogue with Egyptian citizens.

Egyptian economy is, apparently, a very complicated and controversial field! Egyptian economists tend not only to disagree with one another concerning fundamental economic principles; they also work on disqualifying one another’s economic theories, leaving those of us who are struggling to understand basic economic ideologies and philosophies behind. Meanwhile, the Egyptian government is adding to this dilemma by declining to follow a specific clearly defined economic school of thought, working instead with a “mix & match” of ideas without offering any comprehensible justifications.

The Egyptian government and society generally tend only to announce the positive aspect of a given challenge, clearly neglecting to address its natural negative consequences – in the hope that denial will work to reduce these negativities. This allows the deficiencies of any notion to escalate until they emerge in the form of a new challenge whose magnitude exceeds their initial expectations. Egypt would be better off if the Egyptian government would constructively engage its citizens in the country’s economic challenges.

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