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Why Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood looks to the private sector to boost the economy

egypt economy

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has drawn up a strongly free-market economic plan and pledges to move fast to negotiate a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if it forms a government after this month's presidential election.

June 7, 2012 1:37 by



Egypt’s uprising hammered the economy by chasing away tourists and foreign investors and prompting government employees to strike for higher wages. The economy contracted by 4.3 percent in the first quarter of 2011 and flatlined in the following three quarters.


The interim government has gone through more than half of the country’s foreign reserves. It has borrowed to finance its budget deficit at ever-increasing interest rates as local banks stretched their lending ability to the limit.


The Brotherhood would be keen to start talks on an IMF loan as soon as possible.


“We want to begin negotiations with the IMF … We are not against the IMF, but we are against the lack of transparency by the (current) government,” said Amr Abou Zeid, a development adviser to the Nahda programme.


He said the Brotherhood would also look at loans from the World Bank, and he did not rule out it seeking a bigger package from the IMF than the $3.2 billion in finance that the current government has requested.


“We will move fast. We have a very high level of expertise in public finance issues,” Abou Zeid.


The Brotherhood conceived the Nahda programme in the late 1990s when it had little chance of gaining power. But after the uprising that toppled Mubarak, it began serious planning and began work on the economic portion of al-Nahda in March 2011.


Shater heads al-Nahda’s secretariat, which in turn oversees a series of working groups with hundreds of experts, many not Brotherhood members, who draw up plans for various areas of the economy and society as a whole.


These include security and social issues such as education and health. The Nahda teams have visited more than 25 countries, among themSingapore,South Africaand theUK, said Ashraf Serry, a secretariat member.


“Until 2011 the most we could do was put down ideas. It could not become a practical or realistic programme. But after the revolution the chance came to make it a reality and we went to the strategic phase,” Serry told Reuters last month.


Another of the countries they visited wasTurkey, whose AK Party is often cited as a role model for the Muslim Brotherhood.


Soon after coming to power a decade ago,Turkey’s AK party turned to the IMF for a larger-than-expected aid package to assist its economic reforms, and for years it was considered a global model for how to implement an IMF programme and adhere to fiscal discipline, economists say.

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