Q&A: Government’s legislative performance slowing down, says chairman of the Egyptian Junior Businessmen Association

Al-Masry Al-Youm: Some believe the government has been faring clumsily over the recent period, what about your assessment?

Ashraf el-Gazayerly: The government’s performance is slowing down, thanks to the lack of a clear vision, despite the imminence of the parliamentary elections. The government was doing better when it first assumed responsibility.

Al-Masry: What are the indicators of that slowdown?

El-Gazayerly: There is a stagnancy as far as legislative reform is related. Two years ago, we demanded the adoption of a unified food program, and since then we have been awaiting a solution for the controversy over the ministry which should supervise it. I think this slackness can be attributed to the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

Al-Masry: Can it also be the outcome of recanting the policies of free economy and privatisation?

El-Gazayerly: There is no pulling back from free economy, but this policy currently lacks support from the government, according to some indicatives which did not exist when the government first took office. As for the Association’s role in emboldening free economy, we will organize an international conference next November, which will be attended by international institutions. The conference will act as an attempt to return to free economy, also reviewing previous experiments with the policies of free market and privatisation.

Al-Masry: Many are fretted by the term “free economy”, believing that it deprives them of social advantages?

El-Gazayerly: On the contrary, we do not fear such misconceptions. There is a set of undeniable truths that act as evidence to the success of free economy. For instance, there are factory technicians who receive salaries ranging between LE5000 and LE7000. That’s in addition to other examples from the public and private sectors. Some even ask for a mediation to get a job at the private sector.

Al-Masry: What is the association’s position on the decision to stop privatising companies for the favor of a strategic investor, being aware that that policy was subject to scathing criticism?

El-Gazayerly: Some people are trying to question the success of privatisation, giving as evidence the problems stirred by the sale of Omar Effendi and the relations between its strategic investor and the Egyptian government. But invite those to speak about the experience of Olympic Electric as a model.

Al-Masry: Do yo think the government and the private sector benefited from the global crisis?

El-Gazayerly: The global crisis was, truly, a chance to go ahead and make earnings. Several private firms scored substantial returns over the last year, but some at the public sector utilized the crisis to justify their failures.  

Al-Masry: How do you see the present electricity crisis?

El-Gazayerly: Since 2004, we have been handling this problem. The Association had held numerous forums on energy issues and proposed working papers for the solution. We then told the cabinet that 20% of the energy consumed by Egyptians can be acquired from new and renewable sources of energy. The government seemed to favor that trend, but no action had been taken either by the government or by the New and Renewable Energy Authority(NREA).

Al-Masry: But do not you think that the cost for new energy will be high?

El-Gazayerly: Yes it will, but some factories are ready to bear the expenses due to its energy conundrums. There is another important point in relation to the energy issue, that is, we told the government that it should at as the a monitor and a regulator for the market, but it did not, and the private sector is still incapable of operating in the field due to the government’s failure to set the rules for its participation.

Al-Masry: And what blocks the private sector’s access to electricity generation?

El-Gazayerly: It is necessary to permit the private power generators to be linked to the national electricity network and sell their production for the prices they set.

Al-Masry: There are claims that the association has not yet injected fresh bloods out of the founding team.

El-Gazayerly: Untrue. I am the first chairman to come from out the founding team. We possess several commissions which operate at different governorates, and are planning to spread in Sinai and Upper Egypt. There are indicatives that we are producing new figures. On the 18th and the 19th of September next, we will hold a conference to introduce successful fresh faces from Egypt and the Middle East.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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