Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said Thursday that offerings of state companies on the stock market could include those run by the military as he vowed to press ahead with a stream of new projects.
Speaking during the opening of two state-run chemical plants, El-Sisi said Egypt’s military is working alongside private firms, remarks seemingly aimed at refuting claims the armed forces have crowded out other enterprises. El-Sisi said Egypt will continue with new projects to boost economic growth, telling critics they could “get lost” if they didn’t like it.
El-Sisi also said that military companies could be included for the first time in the ongoing program of state divestment, arguing that Egypt’s people should be given the chance to participate in those firms. In comments carried by state TV, he stressed the private sector was welcome to take part in all projects.
A sweeping program launched in 2016 to revive Egypt’s economy has netted impressive gains and turned it into a emerging-market favorite for debt investors. But it’s also pushed more of the population into poverty and opened the door for criticism of the government.
The government and the International Monetary Fund, which agreed a $12 billion loan for Egypt in 2016 to support its program, are discussing the possibility of new cooperation, officials have said. The Washington-based fund, while lauding Egypt for its gains, has said it needs to focus on boosting private sector growth.
In the past, the IMF has also said reducing the role of the state in the economy is key. The country’s purchasing managers’ index, reported by IHS Markit and which measures the non-oil sector, has spent much of the past three years in contraction.
El-Sisi, who was elected the year following the 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in a military-backed public uprising, has prided himself on rebuilding the Arab world’s most populous nation.
Billions of dollars have been poured into projects including an extension to the Suez Canal and a new administrative capital, which he says are a new cornerstone for the nation. Critics contend they are a squandering of money.
Speaking Thursday, El-Sisi said he’d have “no problem” if he were asked to inaugurate projects daily over the next three weeks.
While stressing a need for government accountability, El-Sisi repeatedly said there’s a requirement to separate fact from rumor and that the media has an important role in combating falsehoods circulating on social media.