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Egyptians Have Lost Faith in Morsi

June 28, 2013 in Economics

By Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac

As Mohamed Morsi prepares to mark his first anniversary as president Sunday, Egypt is bracing for a fresh wave of protests.

The Tamarod (or Rebel) campaign has reportedly collected more than 15 million signatures demanding Morsi’s resignation and an early presidential election. In response, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated ruling Freedom and Justice Party is organizing rallies in support of the government. Last week, tens of thousands of FJP supporters were brought in on buses from rural areas to Cairo’s Nasr City neighborhood, where they chanted slogans such as “Islam is the solution” and “The Koran is the constitution.”

Things could take a nasty turn; after all, the Rebel campaign headquarters were burned down on June 7, and attacks on local FJP offices have been reported. The government is talking of a conspiracy aimed at bringing it down. “There is information about an arrangement among certain former MPs and Mubarak’s National Democratic Party thugs to cause violence and mayhem in the June 30 demonstrations,” said an FJP media advisor.

But that’s just fear-mongering, Magdy Samaan, a Cairo-based journalist for London’s Daily Telegraph, told me in an interview. “The constant talk about violence is aimed at keeping people at home on June 30…. Egyptians have never been more upset with their government than now, and the Muslim Brotherhood is afraid that more people will come to the streets than during the Arab Spring.”

The popular discontent with Morsi is understandable. There has been crisis after crisis — economic and political — with many of the goals of the Arab Spring seemingly forgotten.

Over the last year, the government has done little to address the country’s economic problems. The economy is expected to grow at 2.5% in the current fiscal year — barely half of pre-2011 growth rates — and the budget deficit is now at 11.5% of GDP.

The deficit is overwhelmingly driven by wasteful subsidies to fuels and food, accruing mostly to wealthy households and big businesses, while the poor face shortages. The imports of subsidized commodities are draining the country’s foreign reserves — now at one-third their 2010 levels. Instead of proceeding with systemic reform of the subsidy system, Morsi’s government has a pattern of announcing partial reform initiatives but with very little, or no, follow-through.

The unemployment rate has been rising steadily since 2010. The current rate is 13.2%, with 77% of the unemployed between the ages of 15 and 29. The lack of private-sector-led job …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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