Special Year End 2014 Feature:
The “Tahya Masr” (“Long Live Egypt”) Fund’s donations did not exceed EGP 5-EGP 6bn, according to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in late December 2014.
The revelations were published in state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, where Al-Sisi added that in the upcoming period Egyptian media will have a major role in elevating the activity of the fund.
In mid-December, Minister of Planning Ashraf El-Araby said that the “Tahya Masr” fund will be one of the means used for supporting investment company “Al-Ayady”. The company was created to provide job opportunities for youths in the field of small and medium sized projects.
The company was recently launched by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb, with a capital of EGP 10bn. Of this, 20% represents the governmental contribution to the company, and the rest is through private sector contributions.
Al-Ayady aims to “reduce” the problem of unemployment in Egypt, although the amount to be injected into the project from the “Tahya Masr” Fund has yet to be revealed.
At the beginning of December, Al-Sisi announced that four towns will be built especially for the disabled. Each town, to be located near to Cairo, Alexandria, Qena and Ismailia, will have a school, a hospital and a club. People with disabilities will be able to benefit from the services provided in those towns.
The announcement came at the opening ceremony of the eighth session of the Regional Olympic Games for the Disabled for the Middle East and North Africa.
Al-Sisi then called on donors and the board of trustees for the fund to allow the possibility of injecting investments in this project through the “Tahya Masr” Fund. He asked them to make it their priority, urging them to make it the first project to be developed through the fund’s donations.
In the same month, Al-Sisi urged the board of trustees of the Fund to double financial allocations for innovations and scientific research.
The fund’s formation
It was no secret that the Egyptian economy has been struggling since the 25 January Revolution that resulted in the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.
Due to weak economic performance and an urgent need for the country’s development, Al-Sisi announced the launch of the “Tahya Masr” Fund. The announcement came in late June, just a short period after becoming President in May 2014.
Al-Sisi issued a decree to establish the Fund, granting it legal status, where in accordance with Article 2 of the decree law, the fund is held under the auspices of the president. The fund is also directly supervised by a board of trustees, including Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, Mehleb and Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Governor Hisham Ramez.
Six public figures were recently added to the board, including businessman Naguib Sawiris, former grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, CBC channel owner Mohamed Al-Amin, Major General Mohamed Amin Ibrahim Nasr, Reham Fouad Abou Elfotouh and Basil Al-Baz.
For the purpose of assuring transparency and credibility, the fund is also fully controlled by the Central Auditing Organization (CAO).
Following Al-Sisi’s inauguration in June, the CBE Governor announced the opening of the Fund, whose name is based on the slogan of Al-Sisi’s presidential campaign. The fund’s bank account, “037037”, refers to the day on which Al-Sisi declared the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.
Before forming the “Tahya Masr” Fund, there was another fund named “Support Egypt”, with an account number 306306, launched following Morsi’s ouster, and set up to receive donations to stimulate the economy.
In July 2014, the Field Marshall decided to merge the “Support Egypt” and “Tahya Masr” funds. The “Support Egypt” fund solely had collected an amount of EGP 1bn, EGP 150m of which were spent on development projects.
Through the donations collected from the prior fund, ten villages are being improved and developed.
In August the Egyptian Embassy in the US announced that they will begin measures to establish the Tahya Masr in the US, following Mehleb’s visit to Washington.
The Fund’s purpose and Al-Sisi’s evaluation of it
The main purpose of the “Tahya Masr” Fund is to assist in the establishment of service and development projects, including: the financing of micro enterprises; infrastructure projects; small projects for youths; the development of slums, as well as reducing the phenomenon of the homeless and street children; and other projects contributing to supporting the economic and social situation of the country.
The fund accepts donations from everyone, including Hosni Mubarak-era businessmen.
Taking the first initiative for contributing in the fund, Al-Sisi announced in June that he will be donating EGP 21,000, or half of his salary, to the fund. He added: “I will be donating half of my fortune for the sake of Egypt.”
Al-Sisi noted that he is targeting investments worth EGP 100bn in the fund, where he asked all Egyptians living inside or outside Egypt to participate in the initiative. “It is not appropriate that you don’t stand by Egypt when it needs your support,” he said.
Two weeks after the fund’s launch, the CBE had disclosed that the collected value has reached EGP 400m.
The response from Egyptians however was disappointing or insufficient in the eyes of Al-Sisi. Contributions to the fund did not meet the president’s expectations, which led him to saying in a speech: “You’re going to pay means you’re going to pay.”
It was even clearer that the support for the fund was weak after the Suez Canal certificates that were issued for sale, and in less than 14 days collected an amount of EGP 64bn.
News agencies argued at the time that Egyptians were more drawn towards the Suez Canal project because it had a return rate, unlike the charity fund, which only accepts donations.
In a controversial move to force donations, a campaign was launched in early August to track businessmen who did not contribute finances to the fund. The aim was to influence public opinion and prompt citizens to boycott these companies and products.
Businessman Salah Diab, a member of the board of directors of the fund, said in August that donations are yet to exceed EGP 5bn.
Some of the donators who contributed to the fund included governmental entities
In late June the Egyptian armed forces contributed to the fund an amount of EGP 1bn.
An initiative was made in September by the Egyptian interior ministry to raise money for the fund. It involved selling uniquely numbered licence plates in an auction through an official website, where all the money collected would be injected into the fund. The amount to be collected is expected to exceed EGP 3bn.
In October, the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation received approximately EGP 2m from its contractors in order to support the fund.
Earlier in December, the Tourism Investment Association of the Red Sea governorate donated an amount of EGP 30m and EGP 400,000.
In August, Mohamed Almorshedy donated 500 housing units, which provide a total value of EGP 50m.
In the same month, businessman Alaa Arafa made an EGP 20m donation to the fund, where he provided a cheque of EGP 5m as an initial payment to Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb. The rest of the payments will be made over a two year period.
A sum of EGP 5m was provided by Sedawi Ragheb Deif-Allah, the president of Al-Ragheb General Contracting Company in mid-September.
Also in September, Mahmoud Elaraby, chairman of Elaraby Group, provided EGP 20m, and EGP 100m were donated by Salah Abu Donkol, chairman of Abu Donkol for trade and manufacturing.
Donations from banks operating in the Egyptian market reached approximately EGP 160m in July, including Banque Misr, Banque du Caire, the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), the Commercial International Bank (CIB), Arab African International Bank, the United Bank, Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt, SAIB, Egyptian Gulf Bank, and Arab International Bank (AIB).
In August, Minister of Planning Ashraf El-Araby revealed that employees of state-owned National Investment Bank (NIB) have donated EGP 1m to the fund.
In September, governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Hisham Ramez announced that bank contributions to the fund registered EGP 400m
In the same month, Hisham Ezz El-Arab, president of the Federation of Egyptian Banks (FEB), said that all banks, both Egyptian and foreign, donated funds ranging between EGP 10-20m.
In August, workers at the Arab Contactors construction and contracting company donated a sum of EGP 6m to the fund.
In mid-August, Madinet Nasr Housing and Development (MNHD) announced that the company’s board of directors approved a donation of EGP 25m to the fund; the company will pay the amount over the next five years.
Also in August, Members of the Chemicals and Fertilizers Export Council (CEC) decided to donate half of its assets amassed from members’ donations to the fund, where the regulatory body deposited some EGP 1m in a bank the same morning after the decision.
Again in August, Egyptian Steel Group donated a sum of EGP 50m that was handed by group CEO Ahmed Abu Hashima to Mehleb as receipts for bank transfers.
In September, Sherif El-Gabaly, chairman of the Polyserve Fertilisers and Chemical Group, announced that the group will be donating EGP 160m, with the amount paid over five years.
A cheque worth EGP 50m was presented in September to Mehleb from the telecommunications company Etisalat.
In November 2014 Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) donated EGP 2.5bn.
In December it was announced by the Ministry of Petroleum that companies in the oil sector and workers have donated a total amount of EGP 36.850m to the fund.
As part of its CSR, GB Auto decided to provide the fund with EGP 100m, where the company called on all companies to participate in this initiative.