From the Editors
The Popular Campaign to Drop Egypt’s Debts
“You Pay, You Monitor”
The Popular Campaign to Drop Egypt’s Debts was conceived as part of the January 25th Revolution, and affirms the right of the Egyptian people to assert collective control over all matters related to their life and the future of coming generations.
This is a popular movement that aims to facilitate Egypt's economic independence from the many forms of exploitation, subordination and resource misappropriation that were imposed upon the people of Egypt during the past decades by the regime of the ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak and his collaborators abroad.
The economic policies applied by Mubarak’s regime have left us with enormous internal and external debts. The regime borrowed extensively in order to pay off its debt premiums and interest. Real solutions would have entailed searching for alternative mechanisms to finance government expenditure – such as wealth and income taxes – towards the goal of creating a more just economy. But instead of seeking ways to address the structural issues at stake, policymakers attempted to sustain a failing economic model by borrowing both internally and externally. The resulting debts have left the Egyptian people captive to lending countries and institutions.
The interest on these debts represents one of the biggest items of public expenditure in Egypt; this means that significant amounts of money are channeled towards already-wealthy financial institutions rather than toward guaranteeing that every Egyptian can achieve a dignified standard of life.
Decisions about the basic principles of the Egyptian economy have, for too long, been restricted to a select group of experts. It is time that the people reclaim the fundamental right to participate in determining their country’s economic priorities, for they are the first to be affected by economic policies and presently bear the burden of paying from their very own pockets for the mistakes of the previous regime. The transfer of power over economic policy from elites to the people must be an integral part of the democratic transformation in Egypt.
In the light of all these reasons, a group of civil society organizations and individual Egyptians concerned with the public good and with the future of social justice in the country have decided to launch a public campaign to pressure lending countries and institutions, both locally and internationally to drop Egypt’s debts.
The campaign demands that:
1) All loan agreements signed during Mubarak’s rule must be reviewed by an independent Egyptian commission that will evaluate the use of the loans and the degree to which the Egyptian people benefited from them. All debts that are determined to be illegitimate must then be dropped by the lending country/institution.
2) As a general rule, the campaign disapproves of debt swap mechanisms. Debt swaps create new debt burdens, whose legality and benefit are not checked by the people. In cases where debt swaps are used instead of audit and cancellation, the campaign adopts the following stands:
- Debt agreements should be reviewed to determine the legitimacy of the swapped debts.
- The conditions of debt swap should be discussed in a manner that guarantees integrity and transparency in the decision-making process.
3) Although the campaign does not approve of resorting to debts as a quick fix option, in case of any future loan agreements the campaign demands that:
- All contracts and conditions be subject to popular participation and discussion in a manner that guarantees transparency and accountability.
- The legislature implements freedom of information laws that require full public disclosure of all contracts and other information related to loans and debts, with no exclusions save what is stated by law.
It gives us great honor to invite members of the Egyptian public and civil society organizations to join the Popular Campaign to Drop Egypt’s Debts. We invite you to support the Campaign’s agenda in order to preserve the gains of the Egyptian Revolution that enable the economy to be built in accordance with the will of the people, free of pressures imposed by economic colonization and the organized plunder of public money through debts.
Follow us on: Twitter: @DropEgyptsDebt
Drop Egypt’s Debt الحملة الشعبية إلسقاط ديون مصر :
Page of the universal day for Egyptian External Debt Audit and Cancellation:
To join or for more information, please contact us:
Samer Attallah: 0101162412
Amr Ismail: 0127793243
Salma Hussein: 0123118939
[The Arabic version of this founding statement can be found here.]
If you prefer, email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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