About promises of prosperity that hasn’t been achieved and living conditions that have worsened even further
There is a famous fable that tells the story of a young child who used to lie a lot and deceive others by pretending to drown, until came the day when he was really drowning and no one believed him then. The moral of the story is that telling lies makes you lose credibility and trust in all your relationships and that deception might kill you. As Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. This is, at least, reasonably and logically certain. Nevertheless, the Egyptian regime seems to have a different opinion!
“Hop Hop Hop … Up”, this is how “Ali Beh Mazhar”- a famous Egyptian movie character- promises people to make them rich in a very short time, as the famous movie narrates. The same scene is repeated in reality as well; endless promises, vows of near prosperity and project plans with a timeline that ranges from six months to a maximum of four years, this is what state and various government bodies’ officials always talk about. Although five years have passed on since the current president took the reins of power in Egypt, nothing has been achieved pertaining to the expected economic breakthrough, but rather, the matter is getting worse. However, this doesn’t prevent the regime from making more empty ‘castles in the air’ promises and setting a new timeframe for its plans.
This paper monitors the government’s promises and statements regarding what has been announced as “definite plans and timetables”; in an attempt to spread patience among citizens calling on them to bear the country’s economic distress just for a specific period of time, and to bear the unfortunate financial burden placed on them since the floatation of the Egyptian pound coupled with any other decisions issued pursuant to the IMF loan terms. The paper addresses these promises through three main axes: The President of the Republic, the government and officials, and the pro-regime media; detailing a number of promises and pledges made by each of these axes in a chronological sequence starting from 2014 to 2019. All of these statements include timetables and plans that promise a better situation- and sometimes even declare that the situation has already been improved- which is not true, conveying erroneous messages and assessment of the country’s economic situation.
The President of the Republic: From candidacy to his second presidential term, a journey of vows and broken promises!
- 6 May 2014: “Will we witness an improvement in 2 years? Yes, we will”
This is how TV host Ibrahim Eissa echoed the then-presidential candidate Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s answer when he asked him how long it would take him to make citizens witness improvement. The series of the president’s promises began since he announced his run for the presidency. Although he did not provide an electoral plan, he appeared in a TV interview with Ibrahim Issa and Lamis al-Hadidi on CBC Channel saying that people would experience a noticeable improvement in the country’s economic, educational and health conditions and their life, in general, within only two years! (2)
- 23 May 2014: “I’ll create a national network of roads that will connect Egypt’s major areas” (3)
This was another vow that El-Sisi made, and was confirmed by providing a project timeline and developing an action plan while identifying the funding sources. This includes, but is not limited to, the opening of the Regional Ring Road on 9 September 2018, which, after only one year from its inauguration, collapsed on 23 October 2019 due to a rainfall that lasted for only one hour causing the formation of a deep sinkhole, and the road has been closed as a result. This is also apart from the continuous road accidents and landings.
- 19 September 2014: “Be patient on me for 2 years, work with me and hold me accountable thereafter. I hope I can be a good example for Egypt”
Sisi renewed his two-year promise and reaffirmed it (once more), two months after taking office, during his speech commemorating Egypt’s National Farmers’ Day.(4)
- 17 December 2014: “O ordinary Citizens! Rest assured Egyptians; within two years you will see results”
It seems that the two-year grace period hadn’t started yet (at this point), as we expected right after his assumption of the presidency in July. El-Sisi kept renewing his two-year vow even after nearly six months had passed on since he took office. During the inauguration of Hurghada International Airport and the Seaport projects, he reiterated the 2-year promise, without counting the cut-off period, saying: “Rest assured ordinary Egyptians, within two years you will see results”. (5)
- 13 April 2016: “No step-up in the prices of commodities and people’s needs”
Al-Sisi went on saying: “Whatever happens- and nothing will happen, but in case if something happens, the army, the state and I will be responsible for it. Is this a promise? Of course, it is”. This wasn’t the first vow El-Sisi made regarding general commodity prices. From the first day he took the reins of power, El-Sisi keeps asserting and reiterating his promise that basic commodities will not be affected. However, in reality, we can find that the prices of basic goods and services have increased by up to 140% in some goods! (6)
- 28 December 2016: “I hope all of you side with Egypt for only six months and you will find things much better”
Two years after making his first promise during his candidacy, El-Sisi made a new promise with a new time limit, despite the fact that the first one hasn’t been fulfilled yet, as expected by his supporters. The second promise was made during a speech that the president delivered at a conference in Ismailia city, and at this time, he gave a grace period of six months; i.e. in mid-January 2017. Indeed, “things got much better” as he stated earlier. (7)
- 24 July 2018: “Be patient and you’ll see wonders in Egypt”
The six-month period elapsed and was followed by almost a year and a half, and still the desired prosperity has yet to be achieved. Rather than explaining the reasons why he continually reneged on his promises, El-Sisi reiterated his demands of patience, saying “Be patient and you’ll see wonders in Egypt”. This was El-Sisi’s promise to Egyptians, but at this time he didn’t specify the kind of wonder nor the time-span during which he will be achieving it! (8)
- 1 January 2019: El-Sisi began his new year by launching the “Dignified Life” initiative, to be added to the series of promises by pledging to provide his people with a dignified life. Although more than a year and a half have passed on since the launch of the initiative, it hasn’t achieved any considerable results attaining the objective of ensuring decent living conditions for citizens! (9)
The government and ministers: Promises and time-bound plans for “fake” goods/services!
- 27 January 2017: The Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Governor Tarek Amer said: “Throughout six months, the dollar’s value will weigh about EGP 8. It settles less than the current account at approximately 50 percent at the time it valued at about EGP 17. According to a financial study, the dollar is expected to be dropped reaching EGP 8 within six months”. It is worth mentioning that the price of the dollar on 20 July 2019 was about EGP 16. (10)
- 6 May 2017: “Football fans to return to stadiums next year”. This is a false promise made by former Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel Aziz. For security reasons, noteworthy, Egypt football masses have been denied entry to the stands to attend local matches. (11)
- 30 December 2017: Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, Dr. Ali El Moselhi, stressed that the year 2018 would be the best for Egyptian citizens (economically) in terms of shouldering the economic burdens! (12)
- 3 July 2018: “In two years, we will benefit from the impact of the economic reform program, and we will not leave any poor person begging people”, asserted Prime Minister Dr. Mostafa Madbouly. On the other hand, official estimates released by the World Bank reported that 30% of Egypt’s population in Egypt lives below the poverty line, and that some 60% of the population is either poor or vulnerable. (13)
- 18 July 2019: ‘The government pledges: Egypt will be a different country after 2 years”. It seems that the two-year promise is rooted in the conception of the Egyptian political regime, both its president and government. After all previous promises of a year that is filled with prosperity, and vows to improve the standard of living of the poor, which didn’t happen, the Prime Minister came to make the two-year pledge once more!” (1)
The pro-regime media professionals: A year of prosperity that will never come!
You can have a quick look at news reports addressing the country’s economic situation in newspapers and other media, and you will find repeated enthusiastic messages confirming that the economic situation is very good that it can compete with international countries at some points. Such deliberate messages are being directed to the people since 2016 and until today. Examples of such promises of prosperity, which emphasize that the country’s economic situation is improving despite the harsh reality that we are facing, are detailed in the following lines:
- 19 June 2017: “Citizens will feel next year the economy is improving “. This was a major headline extracted from a press interview with Dr. Hala Al-Saeed, Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform, published by Youm7 newspaper. (14)
- 24 December 2017: In Al-Hayat Al-Youm TV show, anchor Tamer Amin confirms that 2017 will be a year of prosperity and the dollar price will decline, based on a conversation he made with an astrologer, whom he described as a “statistician”, and he was the source of all the promises Amin echoed to his audience! (15)
- 7 March 2018: Introduced by media professional Amr Adib as an “economic thinker and intellectual”, Dr. Sherif Delaware answered a simple question, with which Adib started his episode “Do you think the situation in Egypt is economically better than it was four years ago (before El-Sisi took office)?” Is it the same, or worse?” by saying that: “Anyone who says that the economic situation today is worse or similar to what it was four years ago is in a very big mistake!” He then continued to list the reasons behind his assumption, turning a blind eye to the estimated figures and issues that affect the lives of citizens, including the prices of basic commodities and the dollar exchange rate. The guest also said that the deteriorating situation one can feel now in Egypt is similar to the recovery period any patient can experience after undergoing any surgery, stressing “This is a temporary pain that will disappear over time!” (16)
- 19 April 2019: “How can we describe the current real economic situation in Egypt?” This was a question directed at Dr. Abu Hantash Abdul Majeed, a former economist at the United Nations, in a TV program (Investor’s Guide) aired on “Al-Hadath” channel, and he replied: “The Egyptian economy is one of the most promising global economies”. The guest referred to the number of available resources and capabilities claiming that international organizations today are commending the Egyptian economy’s status for the major achievements it has fulfilled, again and as usual in full disregard of the estimated figures and issues the Egyptian people face on the ground. (17)
- 21 July 2019: “Egypt ranks number one in the achievements of the world”. This is a statement made by journalist and the head of the Egyptian National Press Authority Karam Gabr, as part of the statements and remarks that are directed to the public without giving any documented figures or data, and as usual, this is in order to promise and convince people of a better future despite the bitterness of the present they are experiencing. (18)
From the above-mentioned examples, we can identify and outline the false promises made by state officials and their media mouthpieces in two points:
– First: Statements made by state officials themselves; the President of the Republic, ministers and those in authority, involving specific time-bound action plans. By virtue of their office and positions, which makes promises and vows go beyond the mere friendly and informal promises; deeming them to be (formal) political commitments instead, officials must then be held accountable for reneging on their promises. Thus, officials’ echoing of such commitments despite the non-fulfillment of their previous ones is considered as an accumulation of errors and miscalculation that requires accountability.
– Second: The main objective of media reports and directed messages, which we have monitored part of, is to intensify the dose of sedation given to citizens in order to enable them to endure the painful economic situation without showing any kind of objection. Such sedation or painkillers can indeed be useful if there are any signs of upcoming improvement to the economic situation that can promise the end of this pain in the near future, but the situation really needs a completely different plan to be carried out. Ignoring this fact, or trying to obscure or blackout the economic burdens that the Egyptian people bear because of debts and other issues, constitutes a dangerous threat, which will, in the long run, make people and the pro-regime audience lost their trust in state officials and those who represent them in the media.
1- “Al Masry Al Youm” website, “The government pledges: Egypt will be a different country after 2 years”, published on 18/7/2019, accessed on 18/7/2019
2- AlRa2eis Channel, “Sisi: Citizens will feel the situation is improving in 2 years”, published on 6/5/2014, accessed on 20/7/2019, (from 0.5 minute to the last minute) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EuIvoutKVw
3- AlRa2eis Channel, “Sisi: We’ll create a national network of roads that will connect Egypt’s major areas”, published on May 23, 2014 , accessed: October 2019.
- 4. “Al-Watan” website, “Sisi: Be patient on me for 2 years and hold me accountable thereafter”, published on 19/9/2014, accessed on 21/7/2019, https://www.elwatannews.com/news/details/561750
- 5. “Donia El Watan” website, Video .. “Sisi: Be patient on me for 2 years”, published on 17/12/2014, accessed on 21/7/2019, https://www.alwatanvoice.com/arabic/content/print/635051 .html
- 6. “Maspero News” channel, “Sisi stresses: No step up in the prices of commodities and people’s needs”, published on April 13, 2016, visited on 22/7/2019, from 0.21 minutes to the last
- 7. ” Asharq Al-Awsat” website,” Sisi vows to improve Egypt’s economic conditions in 6 months”, published on December 28, 2016, accessed on 22/7/2019,
https://aawsat.com/home/article/817111/%D8%A7% D9% 84% D8% B3% D9% 8A% D8% B3% D9% 8A-% D9% 8A% D8% B9% D9% 90% D8% AF-% D8% A8% D8% AA% D8% AD% D8% B3% D9% 86-% D8% B8% D8% B1% D9% 88% D9% 81-% D9% 85% D8% B5% D8% B1-% D8% A7% D9% 84% D8% A7 % D9% 82% D8% AA% D8% B5% D8% A7% D8% AF% D9% 8A% D8% A9-% D8% AE% D9% 84% D8% A7% D9% 84-6-% D8 % A3% D8% B4% D9% 87% D8% B1)
- “Onlive” website, “Egypt’s President Sisi: Be patient and you will see wonders in Egypt”, 24 July 2018, accessed 20/7/2019, from 0.35 to the last minute https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQziHZbTTAk
9- “Masrawy” website, “After the “Dignified Life” initiative, 6 national initiatives launched by Sis”i, published on January 3, 2019, accessed on 22/7/2019,
https://www.masrawy.com/news/news_egypt/details/2019 / 1/3/1489971 / -% D8% A8% D8% B9% D8% AF-% D8% A5% D8% B9% D9% 84% D8% A7% D9% 86-% D8% AD% D9% 8A % D8% A7% D8% A9-% D9% 83% D8% B1% D9% 8A% D9% 85% D8% A9-6-% D9% 85% D8% A8% D8% A7% D8% AF% D8 % B1% D8% A7% D8% AA-% D9% 88% D8% B7% D9% 86% D9% 8A% D8% A9-% D8% A3% D8% B7% D9% 84% D9% 82% D9 % 87% D8% A7-% D8% A7% D9% 84% D8% B3% D9% 8A% D8% B3% D9% 8A-
10- “Extra News” website, “Central Bank Governor reveals when the dollar will be returned to normal levels”, published on January 27, 2017, accessed on 22/7/2019, (From 0.20 minutes to 1.00 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQe7qYexqWM
11- “Minister of Youth and Sports vows: Football fans to return to stadiums next year”, Published on 6 May 2017, accessed 22/7/2019,
12-“Al-Ahram” website, “Minister of Supply: 2018 will be better economically for Egyptian citizens”, published on 30/12/2017, accessed on 22/7/2019 http://gate.ahram.org.eg/News/1764118.aspx
13- Youm7 website: “Prime Minister in his speech before the parliament: We will not leave a single poor man begging… We’ll establish 13 industrial complexes to provide 43,000 jobs” , published on 3 / 7/2018, visit on 22/7/2019, https://www.youm7.com/story/2018/7/3/%D8%B1%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%B3-%D8% A7% D9% 84% D8% AD% D9% 83% D9% 88% D9% 85% D8% A9-% D9% 81% D9% 89-% D8% AE% D8% B7% D8% A7% D8% A8% D9% 87-% D8% A3% D9% 85% D8% A7% D9% 85-% D8% A7% D9% 84% D8% A8% D8% B1% D9% 84% D9% 85% D8% A7% D9% 86-% D9% 84% D9% 86-% D9% 86% D8% AA% D8% B1% D9% 83-% D9% 81% D9% 82% D9% 8A% D8% B1% D8 % A7-% D9% 8A% D8% AA% D9% 83% D9% 81% D9% 81/3857957
14- Youm7 website: “Minister of Planning in an interview for “Youm7”: Citizens will witness improvement in the economy next year “, published on 19/6/2017, accessed on 22/7/2019,
https: //www.youm7 .com / story / 2017/6/19 /% D9% 88% D8% B2% D9% 8A% D8% B1% D8% A9-% D8% A7% D9% 84% D8% AA% D8% AE% D8 % B7% D9% 8A% D8% B7-% D9% 81% D9% 89-% D8% AD% D9% 88% D8% A7% D8% B1-% D9% 84% D9% 80-% D8% A7 % D9% 84% D9% 8A% D9% 88% D9% 85-% D8% A7% D9% 84% D8% B3% D8% A7% D8% A8% D8% B9-% D8% A7% D9% 84 % D9% 85% D9% 88% D8% A7% D8% B7% D9% 86-% D8% B3% D9% 8A% D8% B4% D8% B9% D8% B1-% D8% A8% D8% AA % D8% AD% D8% B3% D9% 86/3290220
15- Tamer Amin, “Al-Hayat Al-Youm” TV: “2017 will be a good year for Egypt and the dollar price will decline”, Published on December 24, 2016, accessed on 22/7/2019 (From 1.28 minutes to the end of the video)
16- “ON E” channel, “Kol Youm” program – a deep look at the economic situation in Egypt with the expert Sharif Delaware, published on 7/3/2018, accessed on 22/7/2019, (from 3.00 to 5.00 min.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch? v = ai3n-D80QkQ
17- “Al Hadath Al Youm” channel- An economist reveals the real state of the Egyptian economy in 2019, published on 19/4/2019, accessed 22/7/2019, (from 0.00 to 1.00 minute)
18- “Al-Shorouk” website, Karam Gabr: Egypt ranks number one in the achievements of the world”, published on July 21, 209, accessed on 22/7/2019, https://www.shorouknews.com/news/view.aspx?cdate=21072019 & id = 8d936a63-0cee-49a4-a49d-d689d77ce219
Note about the original title: The original title in Arabic goes “The regime’s plans are merely coated with butter…“ which is half of an Arabic saying about empty promises “Words of the night are coated in butter, next morning they melt away”.