An Egyptian contractor has accused the army of squandering public funds and spending billions on his own family whilst ordinary people live in poverty.
In a video published on Facebook Mohamed Ali, a contractor who cooperated with the military for 15 years, has named President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, his wife Intisar, Transport Minister Major General Kamel Al-Wazir, Major General Mohamed El-Behairy, Brigadier Yasser Hamza and Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Talaat as being central to the expansion of the Egyptian army economy which runs parallel to the civil economy.
Ali accused them of stealing money from construction companies working with the military including his own, Amlak. In the video he describes how the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces, which is responsible for the management and supervision of state projects, assigned their projects to companies by direct order, then forced them to begin work without paying them, on the basis that they are carrying out a service for their country.
Many of these projects have actually failed, he said, such as the new administrative capital and the Suez Canal, revenues from which didn’t not even cover the cost of the opening ceremony.
Since Al-Sisi’s rise to power, military-owned companies have flourished and army control over the country has expanded. In August the president announced he was transferring 47 islands used mainly for tourism into state control by presidential decree.
Al-Sisi has said the military accounts for just 1.5-2 per cent of economic output yet other estimates put the figure closer to 50 per cent.
Last year the government announced it was building a government funded luxury palace for the president on the north coast estimated to cost six billion Egyptian pounds ($362.4 million). The announcement provoked outrage from the population who are suffering from harsh austerity measures being rolled out across the country.
Under the conditions of a 2016 IMF loan fuel and electricity price hikes have hit the population hard and have not been offset by an increase in salaries. In July Egypt’s auditing agency said the poverty rate in the country hit 32.5 per cent but observers say the figure is likely to be much higher.
Ali, who has also had a successful career as an actor, posted the video from Spain, where he emigrated after the army refused to pay compensation for projects in which he lost millions after the government decision to float the pound which triggered price increases and inflation. He now lives there amid fears for his family.
He called on the president to refund the money he owes estimated at 220 million Egyptian pounds ($13.3 million).