Egypt's Sisi allows army to establish foreign-funded companies

Egypt's Sisi allows army to establish foreign-funded companies
Egypt's president has enacted a new law that permits foreign investment in real-estate companies owned by the army, as he continues to grant the military 'unprecedented privileges'.
2 min read
07 December, 2015
Egypt's army has been described as a state within a state [Getty]
Egypt President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi has passed a presidential decree that grants the military the freedom to set up private real-estate businesses in partnership with foreign investors, the State Information Service announced on Friday.

This latest amendment has widely been seen as another step towards entrenching military rule in Egypt, as Sisi continues to pass dozens of laws by decree in the absence of a parliament.

"Sisi is letting the army completely take over the entire economy by granting it huge economic advantages," a researcher at the al-Ahram Center for Political Studies told al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service.

"It was possible to accept the pay raises but expanding that to large-scale economic projects worth millions and billions of Egyptian pounds is very hard to accept," the researcher said, who spoke under the condition of anonymity.

He said that Sisi has created a "state within the state" and granted the military unprecedented privileges not seen in any other country.

[Click to enlarge]

The Egyptian Armed Forces owns a massive segment of Egypt's economy - 25 to 40 percent, according to some estimates.

Its economic interests encompass a diverse range of services such as food products, domestic cleaning, cafeterias, petrol stations, livestock, and plastic table covers.

The presidential decree has come ahead of major announcements on Egypt's new administrative capital and a new city in al-Alamein, also last week the cabinet zoned 190 thousand feddans of land for the new capital.

Political expert Mohammad Ezz said Sisi's latest decree was "illogical" because the military's primary role is to protecting the country not "gambling in the stock market".

"The military businesses must be held accountable as they will soon be directly awarded projects. Who will dare compete with companies run by the army?," Ezz said.

The political expert said the Egyptian intelligence services currently run business that do not pay taxes and are not monitored by independent observers.