The Egyptian army collects billions in government contracts
The anti-revolutionary crowd love to look at us with incredulous eyes, and ask “but why would the army want to take over power? They have no interest in being in power! They’re better off being independent!”.
Born in outright lie or terrifying ignorance, this argument, naturally, only holds insofar that there’s no proof of the army making financial gains out of their privileged position in power; the nationalistic slogans placarded over army-built overpasses across the country attempt to convince us that the army is selflessly putting its (unpaid, untaxed, conscripted) labour to the service of the nation.
And, natually, that we should be grateful and stfu.
But occasionally information trickles out, giving us an idea of what kind of money the army is siphoning out of the state’s budget and our taxes — aside from their operative budget, naturally. A few articles published over the past months give us a nice indication of the corruption surrounding state-army financial dealings.
It appears that interim president Adly Mansour issued a presidential decree allowing the state to directly award government contracts in cases of emergency. Which means, circumventing every rule of government procurement.
Because, hey, why go through the pesky process of bidding to pick the cheapest supplier… when you can pick the one in uniform?
And just like that – it appears that every government contract over the past few months has been an emergency..
So over the course of two months – from late September to late November – the army was awarded 7 billion EGP (1 bn USD) worth of government contracts in infrastructure by the council of Ministers. The breakdown is as follows. As you can see, clearly ’emergencies’ justifying this direct contract awarding:
4.7 billion EGP for 27 bridges and a tunnel
2.2 billion EGP for the Sinai investment plan over FY 2013-2014
357 million EGP for housing projects in El Alrish – 132 buildings
170 million EGP for housing projects in Ras Sedr – 62 buildings.
The on December 21st that the Ministry of Local Development had earmarked 2 bn EGP for slum development projects which will be awarded (surprise, surprise) to the army, as per an MOU to be signed the following week. Another article a few days later detailed some of the ministry’s spending projects, and aside from the slum development, the Ministry also has projected spending another 2 bn EGP to develop 14 train level crossings (مزلقانات) across the country.
And guess who’s doing those? The Army.
Most mind-boggling is how government officials have been justifying these contracts: Minister of Local Development, General (yes…) Adel Labib stated the contracts were awarded to the army “to ensure they would be accomplished promptly and accurately”. The Council of Ministers, when handing its 7 bn EGP to the army, noted they were selected for “their efficiency and discipline in the rapid implementation of projects, all while ensuring the highest quality standards.”
Now there’s some discrepancy on the amounts reported (I’ve read different amounts for the slum development, from 1.4 bn to 2 bn EGP) but it is clear that the army has gone on collecting billions over the past few months.
Continued army rule will ensure checks and balances are further eroded. And this country is clearly going to hell without them.