A compromise between workers and investors

29/3/2014, Al Ahram

A system that balances the demands of the workers with the interests of businessmen can be of undeniable benefit to this country. We have no lack of good businessmen in this country, some are known personally to me. Take for example Mohamed Farid Khamis, Dr. Hassan Rateb, Dr. Ahmed Bahgat (despite the unfair criticism he has endured), and Magdy El Taher.

The businessmen who live among us are holding up the torch that the father of Egyptian industry, Talaat Harb, lit a century or so ago. So it is my wish that the prime minister takes note of the needs of Egyptian businessmen, for theirs is the kind of effort that this country needs to get back on its feet. If we are serious about attracting Arab and foreign investors, we have to start by taking care of our own.

I wish to tell Prime Minister Mahlab, with all due respect, that the government bodies are not always up to the task of leadership. All too often, our government bodies are busier “collecting money” from businessmen than offering them the help and assistance they need. It is no secret that the Electricity Authority has turned down demands by key businessmen to increase their supply of electricity, but instead increased the cost of connecting their ventures to the power grid. The same problem exists with sewage. Here too, the businessmen are asked to pay, but fail to get the level of service they need.

I am not absolving our businessmen of all obligations, for indeed they can do more for this country than simply pay taxes. They can do two things in particular to help out. One is to offer support to our failing public health sector. They can help revive the hospitals run by our universities, especially the Qasr al-Aini Hospital.

Our businessmen tend to start projects with certain ministers, and then abandon them when the minister in question leaves office, which doesn’t make sense. A project that cannot survive the official’s term in office is not worth pursuing from the start.

The other thing our businessmen can help with is the creation of pressure groups, or lobbies, abroad. In the US and the UK, we have to find someone to offer our point of view to the public, while refuting the twisted ideas that Qatar and Turkey are spreading to the detriment of our country.

translated from Al Ahram

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