Resisting the policies of impoverishment

November 15, 2016

The counterrevolutionary regime of Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi is pursuing its offensive against Egypt's popular classes on two parallel tracks, simultaneously imposing deep cuts in the living standards of Egypt's workers and poor, while also pursuing a harsh campaign of repression against all dissent.

On November 3, the regime allowed the value of its currency to "float" on international markets, which led to a drop of nearly 50 percent in the value of the Egyptian pound compared to the dollar. The government also raised interest rates and increased the price of fuel and other goods. On November 11, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that Egypt had met the necessary conditions to qualify for a three-year, $12 billion loan.

In a statement first published at their website, the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt have called on the labor movement and its allies to stand together against the intensifying assault on Egypt's working classes.

THE RULE of counterrevolution moves with insistence towards crushing the lives of the poor and toilers in Egypt. Having already achieved record levels of poverty exceeding 27 percent of the population, unemployment at 13 percent and inflation above 14 percent, the regime has decided to float the Egyptian pound and increase fuel prices on black Thursday, thus multiplying those rates and driving the toiling classes to the abyss.

When a state sees its currency lose over 50 percent of its value, it amounts to an economic catastrophe by any measure. Experts warn that inflation will reach 30 percent in the first half of 2017, a social catastrophe that will increase poverty in which a quarter of Egyptians already live--that is according to the usually deflated state statistics.

What the counterrevolutionary regime is doing cannot be reduced to a failure in economic management; the decisions that have wreaked havoc on the poor have been complemented with others favoring investors and the rich. As the state imposed the added value tax, greatly increasing prices and the cost of electricity, gas, water and fuel, the high committee for investment led by al-Sisi announced the free gift of land to investors, permanent and temporary tax breaks. This shows a gross bias towards the rich against the poor who are alone meant to bear the weight of the economic crisis that the regime itself created by squandering resources on illusory projects--which did not even cover the cost of their promotional campaigns--as well as deals with Western states to buy political support from them and break its isolation.

Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi
Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi

This unprecedented attack of the counterrevolutionary regime against the poor must not pass without serious resistance from the poor and the toilers themselves. The consequences of IMF policies are not a secret to anyone; they have ruined the lower and middle classes wherever they were implemented, whether in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Greece or other countries whose poor and workers the IMF has wrecked.

Struggling unions and popular political forces in those countries have played a pioneering role in resisting IMF policies and their catastrophic effects. In Egypt, in spite of all the difficulties faced by the union movement as well as left and democratic political forces, the unions have constituted a real challenge to the counterrevolutionary regime in recent years. The independent civil servants' union, the independent teachers' union, the doctors, journalists, pharmacists, engineers, lawyers and other independent workers' unions and syndicates have mobilized their rank and file to defend their interests under the worst conditions.

Today, the unions along with struggling political forces must lead society and with it the poor and the workers to confront the regime's savage attack on their lives.

What has been achieved until now in the fight for Tiran and Sanafir--with the success of the protest movement in halting the handover of these islands to Saudi Arabia, and a good chance that the shameful deal will be entirely defeated--shows that victories are possible against the regime of the counterrevolution if militants and the poor unite their ranks against the policies of impoverishment and exploitation.

First published at the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt website.

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