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Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title Decentralizing Egypt: Not just another economic reform
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
URL http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1049&context=econ_facpub
Egypt is a unitary country with one o f the longest centralized traditions in
the world reaching back several millennia to the tim es o f the pharaohs.
Later, local councils (Diwans) set up by the French in 1798 were not elected
and played a purely consultative/advisory role. In m odem Egypt, the regim e
introduced through the revolution o f 1952 by N asser has remained quite
attached to a centralized form o f governm ent with several manifestations of
territorial deconcentration largely based on the Soviet budgeting m odel.1
Although, as discussed below, there has been considerable econom ic
progress and modernization o f market institutions in recent times, Egypt's
public sector remains bloated and inefficient, and basically unable to
improve the quality o f basic services such as health and education for its
citizens.2 This has had adverse impacts on the standard o f living o f citizens
and on the ability to put the country on a sustainable path o f economic
growth. These failings have also had an impact on the popularity and
acceptance o f the current political regime. Although formally Egypt is a
parliam entary dem ocratic system, de facto, the National Democratic Party
(NDP) has ruled the country as a single-party regim e under strong
presidential rule. The failings o f the current system o f governance vis-a-vis
the delivery o f public services has caused the current government to become
interested in finding, or at least exploring the possibility of, a solution in
some form o f decentralization reform. But a successful decentralization
effort will require the political empowerment o f local communities and this
is a step that some in the current regim e are unsure can be taken, while at
the same tim e there are others that feel that this is a step that the regime
cannot afford not to take. Changing the political landscape and status quo
from the bottom up is the most significant obstacle on the horizon for
genuine decentralization reform in Egypt

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