The budget

Yesterday Hossam quoted al-Destour for some interesting figures about how much the interior ministry is spending. It's worth highlighting that, in fact, a lot more than that is available. For several years now the Egyptian government has been improving its statistics gathering and dissemination, and a lot of these figures come from what is probably the most complete, transparent budget published in the history of Egypt, or at least in the history of Republican Egypt. It's been done with USAID and other donor money and under guidance from the IMF, with the support, obviously, of the economic reformist in the cabinet. All of these people deserve kudos because this move towards transparency is part of democratic accountability.

In this budget, which is available here, lists all kinds of goodies. I didn't get time to get to the nitty-gritty, but just on the first few pages you get some interesting figures about the presidency. On page two, it says the presidency got LE98m in FY04/05, LE121m in 05/06, and LE140m in 06/07. Considering how much traveling gets done by the president, these figures -- around $22-25m -- seem quite small. Maybe there's another budget elsewhere, but it seems to me there are going to be some figures that are simply not reliable. Probably because the Ministry of Finance itself doesn't have access to the real data.

There's a lot of interest statistics in there, and someone savvy could really do something interesting with them. Let us know if you spot any other dodgy figure.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.