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Top 5 Misleading Statements by President El-Sisi in The Past Year

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
16th February 2024
Top 5 Misleading Statements by President El-Sisi in The Past Year
Misbar compared El-Sisi's claims to Egypt's economic facts (Getty)

The year 2023 was not just marked by the devastating wars in Gaza, Sudan, and Ukraine; it was also deeply marred by an unprecedented deluge of misleading information that permeated every corner, from the chaotic online sphere to the very pronouncements of heads of state.

The year began with the Sudanese war in April, already a breeding ground for confusion and manipulation. As fighting raged, a parallel war of narratives emerged, with fabricated news and distorted facts swirling across social media and even official channels, which Misbar documented. This pattern held true for the subsequent war on Gaza, where October witnessed an explosion of misinformation further muddying the already complex situation.

The ongoing war in Ukraine, since 2022, also became a battleground for truth, with propaganda and disinformation weaponized by both sides. However, the problem was not confined to war zones, this erosion of trust and manipulation of information extended beyond social media, reaching even the highest echelons of power.

Among the countries grappling with this widespread disinformation, Egypt stood out as a concerning case. Throughout 2023, the nation witnessed a plethora of misleading information, often originating from government officials themselves. Misbar monitored at least five instances where President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi made demonstrably false statements, highlighting the alarming presence of misinformation even within official narratives.

1- Economic Growth Exaggeration

President El-Sisi's 2023 announcement at the New Global Finance Summit painted a rosy picture of Egypt's economic success, attributing a 6% growth rate to the 2016 reform program and blaming recent woes on global crises. However, a closer look reveals a more nuanced, and perhaps concerning, reality.

While Egypt did achieve a 5.6% growth rate in 2018/19, this statistic masks deeper issues. Growth solely in GDP numbers does not necessarily translate to improved living standards. Experts like Dr. Hiba Al-Lithy, a consultant for the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, highlights that this growth has not stemmed from sustainable sources like industrial or agricultural production, leaving ordinary citizens unaffected.

Moreover, attributing current economic hardships solely to global turmoil is misleading, according to matsda2sh. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) paints a different picture. Their 2023 report on Egypt's loan request acknowledges the impact of global crises and emphasizes pre-existing vulnerabilities.

It cites a heavy reliance on "hot money" – volatile foreign investments – to finance government projects and dependence on Russia and Ukraine for tourism and wheat imports. These risky strategies exacerbated the impact of global shocks, contributing to the current crisis.

The IMF report further identifies "accumulated imbalances" within the Egyptian economy, suggesting the crisis was not solely triggered by recent events. These imbalances include large external debt (reaching $155 billion in 2022) and spending priorities focusing on large infrastructure projects over social programs benefiting the poor and middle class.

In essence, the narrative presented by President El-Sisi does not fully capture the complexity of Egypt's economic situation. While global factors undoubtedly play a role, the country's current struggles are also rooted in pre-existing vulnerabilities and questionable economic policies. The IMF report urges comprehensive reforms to address these underlying issues, but their feasibility and political will remain a crucial question mark.

This situation raises concerns for investors and creditors, potentially impacting future loans and investments in Egypt. Addressing the concerns raised by experts like the IMF and prioritizing sustainable growth that benefits citizens are crucial steps for Egypt to navigate its economic challenges and avoid an even deeper crisis.

2- Historical Debt Distortion

President Sisi's recent assertion that Egypt's first loan came in 1971 stands in stark contrast to verifiable historical records. Data readily available from the World Bank reveals a significant external debt of $1.8 billion already by 1970, during the final year of President Gamal Abdel Nasser's administration. This paints a clear picture contradicting the claim.

A supporting image within the article body
Photo Description: Total stock of external debt (outstanding and disbursed debt, in current US dollars) - Egypt, Arab Rep.

Furthermore, Dr. Galal Amin's comprehensive examination of Egyptian economic history in "The Story of the Egyptian Economy" further dismantles Sisi's statement. The book documents foreign aid and loans totaling 800 million Egyptian pounds, received between 1958 and 1965. Notably, these funds originated from both the United States and the Soviet Union, highlighting Egypt's early engagement with external borrowing.

3- Misplaced Blame on Workers

At the recent Cairo industry exhibition, President El-Sisi pointed the finger at workers for the lack of profits in government-owned companies. However, data from Saheeh Masr analysis tells a different story. Their study, spanning 2018-2021, reveals a far cry from the President's claim.

Instead of placing the blame solely on labor, the analysis assigns responsibility to a wider range of factors, with worker contribution amounting to a mere 3%. The real culprits lie elsewhere, with shortages of raw materials (45%), spare parts (4%), and marketing difficulties (40%) constituting the major hurdles to full production capacity.

This method involved comparing the maximum output potential of state-owned factories with their actual production, considering selling prices which covered 20 key industrial sectors, encompassing everything from food production to iron and steel manufacturing.

For instance, in 2018/2019, a staggering 7.7 billion Egyptian pounds in untapped production capacity existed. Of this, raw material shortages were responsible for the lion's share (45%). Other difficulties, including marketing challenges and lack of spare parts, also played significant roles, highlighting the systemic nature of the problem. This data suggests that President El-Sisi's singular focus on worker productivity was misplaced.

4- Misrepresentation of Post-Revolution Stability

El-Sisi said on September 30, 2023, at the Story of a Nation conference: The state of instability that occurred from 2011 to 2013 destroyed the country to a large extent. However, World Bank data depicts positive economic indicators during those years.

The GDP saw a rise, jumping from $236 billion in 2011 to $288.4 billion by 2013. This translates to consistent growth rates of 1.8%, 2.2%, and 2.2% in 2011, 2012, and 2013 respectively.

A supporting image within the article body
Photo Description: GDP (current value in U.S. dollars) - Egypt, Arab Rep.
A supporting image within the article body
Photo Description: GDP growth (annual %) - Egypt, Arab Rep.

Additionally, remittances from Egyptians abroad witnessed a significant increase, rising from $9.75 billion in 2009-2010 to $18.66 billion in 2012-2013. Export volumes also saw an upward trend. These indicators paint a different picture than the one presented by President Sisi.

5- Public Employment Misinformation

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has repeatedly claimed that massive public hiring in 2011, coinciding with the Egyptian revolution, was a major factor in the country's economic woes. However, this claim stands in stark contrast to official data.

According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), 2011 saw a decrease in government employees by over 161,000. This directly contradicts Sisi's assertion of a million or more new hires that year. Furthermore, the data reveals a drop from about 5.6 million employees in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2011 and 2012 without any change.

2023 served as a stark reminder of the dangers posed by misinformation and its pervasive influence. This phenomenon of "official misinformation" raises serious concerns about the future of public discourse and decision-making. When even presidents resort to manipulating information, it becomes increasingly difficult for citizens to discern truth from fiction, leading to confusion, distrust, and hampered ability to navigate complex issues.

The consequences of this rampant disinformation are far-reaching. It undermines the legitimacy of institutions, sows division within societies, and hinders effective responses to critical challenges. Building trust in reliable information sources and fostering media literacy become crucial tools in combating this growing threat.

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