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Sunday, 24 June 2018

IMF takes the middle ground in the military’s role in the economy debate

IMF weighs in on the military’s role in the economy debate: Although The Egyptian military’s economic activities “aren’t particularly in contradiction with the IMF policy,” it’s up to the state to establish a “fast-growing economy whose main pillar [ought to be] the private sector rather than the public sector or the state,” IMF mission chief to Egypt Subair Lall tells Al Monitor in an interview. The government should “reduce the state’s control in general, not specifically the military, over economic activities, in line with the agreed objectives of the economic reform plan,” Lall added. Lall’s statements underscore the middle ground the IMF is taking on the debate. A series of stories in the international press have drawn attention to what some claim is the military’s growing role in the economy. Most notable of these was a year-long Reuters investigation and, most recently, a long recap of the issue from the Wall Street Journal. Military Productions Minister Mohamed El Assar subsequently refuted the claims, noting that 75% of the ministry’s projects come in partnership with the private sector. “Economic reform experiences in many developing countries show that excessive state intervention in the economic sector doesn’t affect competition as [much as] some might claim,” said Lall.

More needs to be done to spur private sector growth: Lall urged for more measures to encourage private sector growth. “The state has to encourage competition and remove any obstacles facing investors in acquiring lands and investments. It has also to work on increasing economic transparency by passing legislation to this effect, eliminating bureaucracy and developing infrastructure, which will help the private sector increase investment, develop the economy and create the required job opportunities," he added.

Meanwhile: Egyptians are using dueling hashtags on Twitter, one side to call for President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to resign, the other to voice support, Menna Zaki writes for the AP. The hashtags — #Sissi_Leave and #MyLeaderIsSissiAndProud — have been gaining momentum since the government moved to raise fuel prices over the Eid break.

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