Egypt’s economic impasse: Sisi still launches unfeasible projects for propaganda

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Last Friday, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi toured the capital, Cairo, which revealed the process of establishing a new project within the projects of his national government, which are considered by the International Monetary Fund and foreign creditors who are calling for stopping these useless projects until the end of the economic crisis afflicting Cairo. Egypt suffers from a financing gap of $16 billion, most of which is to pay instalments and interest on debts directed by the regime to establish projects that benefit army commanders and senior officials around Sisi.

The Sisi regime has obtained tens of billions of dollars since 2014, of which the Gulf Associated Press estimated about $100 billion, in the form of loans, direct aid, oil materials and deposits, in addition to loans from international organizations, support and financing grants. Al-Sisi inspected efforts to establish half-wholesale markets in the Mokattam area on the outskirts of Cairo, in addition to the Heliopolis and Nasr City regions, which are upper-middle neighborhood far from the center of the capital. A spokesman for Al-Sisi said that this is within the framework of “the state’s keenness to control and regulate markets.”

Direct attribution

Like the majority of national projects that are assigned by direct order to the Engineering Authority and the Projects Authority of the Egyptian Armed Forces, these projects were assigned to the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces that implement this project without being obligated to submit any tenders or other procedures followed in obtaining the suitable projects. The Engineering Authority obtains public funds from the budgets of the various ministries. At the same time, that body acts as the body that manages the implementation of the project and controls the payments and then transfers the projects to contractors cooperating with it, who receive their wages from the military body. Accounts are usually controlled and changed to avoid CAO oversight.

The projects are usually implemented without any surveillance from the authorities concerned with oversight because of the power and influence of the Engineering Authority and its beneficiaries on the one hand. On the other hand, the president himself paved the way for them by eliminating the independence of the various oversight bodies, whether by excluding those who enjoy integrity and independence or by obtaining the decision to appoint members and heads of surveillance organizations. The implementation of these projects was chosen after Sisi’s military friends convinced him of the feasibility of these projects. This is done by word of mouth, and in many cases, it is useless other than their benefit through brokerage and currencies.

Enemy” of feasibility studies

Al-Sisi said during his most recent tour in the desert around the Mokattam Mountains that the new project would be for “half-wholesale” vending, that is, between retail and wholesale, considering that this will cost the consumer less, but the feasibility of this idea is not understood. He should have explained how it would be less expensive for the consumer. Al-Sisi added that five half-wholesale markets would be opened next June, noting that they will be for testing. If the idea succeeds, it will be circulated “so that the citizen does not feel the difference between retail and half-wholesale prices.”

Al-Sisi usually proposes solutions to the economic crisis whose mechanism of action needs to be understood. Therefore, this project will raise questions that must be answered primarily before starting the feasibility study, the first of which is: What will those markets sell? All the goods? What is the difference between them and the traditional wholesale markets, where the average consumer can buy semi-monthly quantities? And if the idea succeeds, as he says, what will happen to the retail markets? Answering these questions may undermine the idea from the beginning and may support it, which means testing is unnecessary. However, Sisi did not ask these questions to the executors. He also prevented anyone from asking them, as Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi did not believe in the importance of feasibility studies.

“If I do not know my job, I will not stand this pause,” from Sisi’s previous statements. Al-Sisi believes that feasibility studies are useless, saying, “There are projects that do not need feasibility studies, and there is no time to lose,” as he said previously: “If we had relied on feasibility studies, we would have implemented only 25% of the projects that have been implemented.” Concerning a failed project carried out by direct order from Sisi, which is the Damietta Furniture City, Sisi said: “When we constructed it, we did everything according to what we thought could succeed.” He considered the project’s failure due to the need for other elements in the study. At the same time, and despite everything, he clung to the project through his admission of the project’s failure. Moreover, he asked his government to work on developing it so that it would succeed!