Byproduct of open-door policy
On the surface, the term “openness” may appear appealing; in essence, however, it embodies numerous problems. By the time, Egypt adopted the “open-door policy,” many gullible quarters entertained the belief that such a policy would “attract foreign investment and provide impetus to economic growth, besides creating better prospects for political forces and individuals.” But in actual fact, the policy led to acute socio-economic collapse. In other words, time provided that the ultimate objective of the externally-imposed policy was to paralyze national economy. What about the social consequences of the so-called “openness”? The establishment of national government is essentially aimed at coordinating and leading all-round endeavors towards nation-building. It is thus imperative that the realization of this goal demands the establishment of a strong national government that promotes the socio-economic wellbeing of the people, guarantees national unity, ensures equitable development, upholds the rights of citizens and gives priority to national interest, as well as one that pursues independent path. Hence, a policy that is driven by international financial institutions is designed to undermine the government’s role from the aforementioned prerequisites, and thereby expose nations and their resources to local and external forces of plunder.
Bowing to the directives of financial institutions cited above, the Egyptian government abandoned the responsibility of managing the national economy and allocating resources, which practice provided ample room for local and foreign investors to have a free hand. As a result, the national economy fell under the absolute control of companies and stockholders that make no investment for socio-economic transformation. Such a scenario ultimately gave rise to the emergence of a vast number of destitute citizens on the one hand, and a few extremely rich individuals on the other.
Outlining the following facts would enable one to comprehend the social problems ensured in the Egyptian society as a result of the open-door policy:
1. Poverty level of farming communities declined to the lowest level leading to the mass exodus of youths to urban centers in search of employment opportunity. Many of the jobless youths were compelled to beg for their daily living, besides resorting to theft and other ill practices. In the process, Cairo city became the slum of poverty.
2. Unemployment reached the peak with the weakening and shutting down of industrial plants.
3. Housing problem is one of the acute consequences of the open-door policy in Egypt. In the wake of adopting this policy, nationals faced severe housing problem as the government refrained from getting involved in the administration of residential houses. Those farmers who were displaced from fertile agricultural sites in particular were compelled to live in slum on the outskirts of the capital devoid of water and other social services. About 8 million citizens live under such condition, according to reports.
4. This plight of citizens witnessed in Cairo and its environs is even more rampant in other parts of the country. While 50% of state expenditure is spent on Cairo alone, approximately 6.7% expenditure is channeled to all zones in southern Egypt. Boni Swef province is the most forgotten and destitute in the country where about 78% of residents experience one-meal a day. Almenia zone ranks second in this predicament. Likewise, the inhabitants of Asiut, Al-Fium, Suhaj and Aswan zones live below the poverty line.
5. One of the distressing byproducts of the open-door policy is the mounting suicide witnessed in Egypt as the US newspaper, Chicago Tribune, reported. The rate of committing suicide resulting from abject poverty and unemployment has been escalating from year to year. The paper indicated that some 10,679 Egyptian university students committed suicide in the year 2008 alone. Many other youths also became drug addicts. Reports compiled in 2009 disclosed that there area up to 6 million drug addict youths in the country.
6. Privatization or briberization, as the book titled “The Discontent of Globalization” put it, which is the outcome of the open-door policy gives rise to the culture of corruption. The prevailing rampant corruption in Egypt fully attests to this fact. Reports on criminal cases indicate that corrupt practices involving huge sum of bribe take place in the country every 90 second.
It is well known that Egypt that is endowed with ancient relics is one of the main tourism destination countries in the world. One who enjoys the wonderful hotel accommodations along the banks of the Nile River and Sharm Al-Sheik may find it difficult to believe that this seemingly paradise nation is home to destitute-stricken hundreds of thousands of nationals. Apart from commonly witnessed beggary, it is a usual seen to observe a number of females practicing prostitution for token sum of money around hotels. Theft and related malpractices are equally rampant.
The aforementioned socio-economic plight emanating from the so-called open-door policy is thus the major factor that prompted the Egyptian people to harbor deep hatred against their government. The fierce popular uprising that led to the overthrow of the Housni Mubarak is part and parcel of this resentment. The next article in this series would focus on the mixing of authority and wealth, as well as administrative and political corruption.