« 税制改正論議 自公で軽減税率を実現せよ | トップページ | 中国の検閲―言論の自由とめられぬ »

2013年1月10日 (木)

エジプト混迷 分裂を回避して経済再建を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 10, 2013)
Morsi must unite Egypt, rehabilitate economy
エジプト混迷 分裂を回避して経済再建を(1月9日付・読売社説)

Can Egypt promote democratization under its new Constitution and end the country's economic crisis? The great Middle East power is walking a tightrope as it works to rehabilitate itself.

The country's new Constitution was enforced after winning the approval of 64 percent of voters in a two-stage national referendum held late last year.

The new Constitution was established under the initiative of President Mohamed Morsi, who was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. The democratization process--launched after the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring movement and a brief period of military rule--has entered a new dimension.

Regrettably, however, the voter turnout in the referendum stood at a low 33 percent. So it cannot be said that the new Constitution was supported by a wide range of people.

The new Constitution limits the president to no more than two terms of four years each to forestall autocratic rule. There were no restrictions under the old constitution.


Secular-Islamist rift widens

Secular and liberal elements have protested vigorously against the new Constitution as it strongly emphasizes Islamic values, such as prohibiting "insults to the Prophet Mohammed." There have been deaths in clashes with Islamist forces during demonstrations.

It is lamentable that the rift between Islamism and secularism has widened over the establishment of the new Constitution, which was expected to promote national integration.

Morsi must apply the Constitution carefully to prevent the confrontation from worsening. It is vitally important to smoothly hold a lower house election scheduled for the first half of this year under the new Constitution.

Another important task for the Morsi administration is economic reconstruction.

The turmoil that followed the regime change seriously damaged the country's key tourism industry and slowed foreign investment. Foreign exchange reserves dropped sharply as the external balance of payments deteriorated.


Fix fiscal mess

In an effort to avert a default on debts, the Morsi administration has concluded a basic agreement with the International Monetary Fund on loans totaling 4.8 billion dollars (about 420 billion yen). However, this aid has strings attached, as Egypt will receive the assistance only if it pursues fiscal reconstruction through measures such as tax increases and spending cuts.

The problem is that the Morsi administration is reluctant to implement such measures for fear of a public backlash. The value of the country's currency has declined, given the uncertain prospects of receiving the IMF's financial assistance.

The Egyptian government must tackle fiscal reconstruction swiftly and restore public safety quickly in an effort to bring back foreign tourists.

In the medium and long term, competitiveness in the marketplace is of paramount importance. Fair competition has been impeded because military-related business groups receive preferential treatment.

The special privilege that allows the military to bypass parliamentary approval on the defense budget has been left intact under the new Constitution. Will the Morsi administration have the courage to ax this privilege as it works toward economic reform?

The president's leadership in dealing with the military also will be put to the test.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 9, 2013)
(2013年1月9日01時03分  読売新聞)


« 税制改正論議 自公で軽減税率を実現せよ | トップページ | 中国の検閲―言論の自由とめられぬ »





« 税制改正論議 自公で軽減税率を実現せよ | トップページ | 中国の検閲―言論の自由とめられぬ »