Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Government gas

So, ofcourse the rumors are right, and the unleaded 90 and 80 are fast dissapearing from all gas stations. What's pissing me here is not the sudden increase in gas prices (by having to buy the higher quality fuels, thanks God I can afford it), or the eventual increase of all commodities (again), I think 1 pound per litre was a pretty low price for fuel (though barely affordable by many), and unleaded 92 & 95 are a good break for the environment.

What really pisses me, is how the government was so devious and deceptive about all of this! Whom are they fooling?! Well, I think they know they're not fooling anyone, but doing it that way (denying, denying, and denying any change in fuel policy, even though an official memo was sent to Misr Petroleum, a friend of mine in the petroleum sector tells me) not to have a shocking effect, with an unpredicted public reaction. Reading a frontpage headline that fuel prices will increase by 40%, has a very different effect than spreading rumors about unleaded 90 dissapearing, and then gradually replacing all gas pumps with 92 & 95 grades. Treating Egyptians like children is certainly a common practice around here (and even if they are fostering us, I'm sure that's the wrong way to raise your kids, so, one more reason why Egyptians become what they are).

So for those who were so optimistic with the new "youth government" and Nazif as prime minister; they ARE ALL THE SAME. As long as he accepted the position, he must be the same. Nazif just didn't spend long enough in government to speak the same language. Ebeid was a very nice person, hardworking, smart, and clean. But something about Egyptians being in government (and authority over other Egyptians), especially for long, that turns them into screwups.

Yet again, to those who were optimistic with Nazif as prime minister, its not a slightly better government official here or there that will make the difference we're looking for. We get a break maybe, but that's about it.

Yes, what triggered me to write this is I couldn't find unleaded 90 this morning on my way to work!


Anonymous said...

Gas prices the world over are increasing - why should Egypt be any different? If you look at the amount of money the government spends on subsidies (and bribes, and ekrameyat), it's not surprising our debt is as big as it is. That said, public perception about the role of government has to change if any genuine improvement is to be made. If gas prices the world over increase, Egypt should not be any different - for God's sake, the strongest economies in the world are transparent enough to allow changes in their gas prices - why not Egypt?

As for your opinions on Nazif, while I respect them, I disagree with them. Power can corrupt anyone, not just Egyptians, so no suprises there. Show me one country where office politicians are all clean and altruistic. Nazif is hope - nothing more, nothing less. The fact that he hasn't spent time in government is exactly why he is hope - because he hasn't been soiled by existing power struggles yet. He might eventually succumb, true, but he still represents a glimmer of hope.

If not Nazif, then what? If not a ministerial reshuffle, then what? Expecting sweeping reform from the top down is at best naive. Baby steps, that's what I say. I'm not for or against keeping anyone in power - I just think Egyptians need to stop victimizing themselves and start taking control of their own lives first. There is so much potential within the existing political climate, and everyone is passing it by simply because they want to whinge and whine some more.

Anyway, thanks for the commentary mate :)


Mohamed said...

I think you might've missed my point there Hellme. I'm not complaining about the increase in gas prices (check my first paragraph), but I'm just whining about how the government did it (check my second paragraph).

Regarding Nazif, power can corrupt anyone, definetely. But more so with Egyptians. However, I'm not talking about corruption here, I'm talking about treatment. How Egyptian authority figures treat Egyptians, and vice versa. Its a cultural thing.

I'm not sure about describing Nazif as hope too. The way this whole gas thing was done evaporated any hope I might've pinned on him. He was selected there for a reason, and that whole "youth government" scam is there for a reason too. And because power corrupts, especially in Egypt, and because he has no real authority for change.. and because he is extremely pragmatic, and because it will not be a scientific process as he likes to describe it (input-and-output), Egyptians will not be better off on the long run because of him. Maybe a few better laws here and there, but that's all.

Anonymous said...

I am happy you still have hope for this country to be any better. I personally think that unless Egyptians want to change, fight the status-quo, stop blamming everything on this country, develop the sense of ownership-- we will only progress backward.

And yes, they do treat us like children because they are no better than us. Hide and Seek.. this is the only thing we pretend to understand.

Hellme said...


I understand that you have issues with the way it was done, and you yourself made the observation that what would border on civil revolt would ensue if gov. was to simply hike up gas prices (as other countries have done).

While I certainly do not appreciate being treated like a child by gov., I see the historical cause of corruption - power corrupts, more so in Egypt, but my opinion is that this is because the very people are corrupt. We ARE children, and that's why we are treated like children - this is not to say that we are ALL children. If you think the gov.'s treatment of Egyptians is unique, you should go to places in Europe where the threat of a nanny state is so powerful, people are there too on the border of civil revolt.

Obviously, the situation in Egypt is much worse than what it is anywhere else, but my opinion is that for the politics of gov. to change, there has to be a genuine change in the way people think and treat each other. After all, the civil service IS staffed with normal Egyptians who refuse to do their jobs. I think at the end of the day, Egyptians will not be better off mostly because of themselves. If you've lived alongside Egyptian communities abroad, you'll know what I mean: the rule of law makes no difference to Egyptians: those who chose to be bad, are bad regardless.

Just my two cents.

Mohamed said...

Your points are well taken Hellme. I sometimes tend to agree that we are children! But I look at it slightly different. I think we are treated as children, and that's why we have become children (not the other way around).

There are different ways to handle such a gas price hike. One, like they did. Two, bluntly raising the prices, possibly causing some civil unrest. Three, give heads up and explain, explain and explain why it must be done --transparency (which is what Nazif has been preaching since he took office!). Four, i don't know, be innovative.

I think you're passing a cruel judgment on Egyptian communities abroad. Yes, there are those who disrespect the law even out there (because they've been doing it for so long), but most do respect and abide by the laws of the country they're in. But then, I guess this observation could differ from one community to another.

Hellme said...

Granted, the Egyptian gov. has a serious problem with a) transparency and b) innovation. Both are in short supply, and they are easily remedied with the right people. I have hope that Nazif will at least install the right people, if not prove to be the right person himself.

As for Egyptian communities abroad: while I'm sure there are those who do abide by the rule of law, I have yet to see them in substanial numbers. Those that I have seen have always tended to mistreat each other in the least. Then again, this is all generalisation.