So after months of deliberating, this is what Egypt thinks about the economy. This is Article 13, on the “national economy”, taken from an unofficial translation of Egypt’s draft constitution:
The national economy aims to achieve sustainable and balanced development, protect production and increase income, ensure social justice, solidarity and welfare, safeguard the rights of workers, ensure a fair distribution of wealth, raise the standard of living, eradicate poverty and unemployment, increase employment opportunities, achieve a partnership between capital and labor in bearing the cost of development, ensure equitable sharing of the revenues, link pay to production, lessen the disparities between incomes by introducing a maximum wage and guaranteeing a minimum wage, all to ensure a decent life for every citizen.
With only about four references to the economy, the constitution by which Egypt will live by is a sorely disappointing read.
Perhaps Egypt should be forgiven for the above, considering it is only a draft constitution? But we don’t forgive easily.
The lack of ambition conveyed in the draft, even after months of discussions, is expected. The vagueness alone is worrying.
Apart from appearing quite muddled and using the same blurry rhetoric that bores us all to death (i.e. “social justice”, “solidarity” and “balanced development”), the above comes across as socialist in its economic approach.
“Ensure equitable sharing of the revenues”? That line has socialism written all over it. What exactly does that mean for Egypt’s business community and international investors? Egypt must break away from state-run economics, or at least mixed state and free-market economics, and this kind of wording is sure to scare investors away.
Though Rebel Economy supports a radical re-thinking of economics, poorly planned populism is disastrous.
What’s more, the drafters seem to have merely stuck on a few extras onto the same article of the previous constitution written under former president Sadat in 1971:
The national economy shall be organised in accordance with a comprehensive development plan which ensures raising the national income, fair distribution, raising the standard of living, solving the problem of unemployment, increasing work opportunities, connecting wages with production, fixing a minimum and maximum limit for wages in a manner that guarantees lessening the disparities between incomes.
Here’s the key problem: This draft shines a spotlight on the contradiction and lack of clarity in government. While Egyptian officials insist they believe in democracy and “free markets” on one hand, deeply enshrined in the wording of this constitution are beliefs that seem against that. And one thing that’s clear about the business community, they don’t like uncertainty.