One basic reason you do not want corporations to have overriding control over policy is that the narrow-minded, myopic short-term material interests of corporations do not accommodate the public good, and more often than not, contradict it.
A small example of this in Egypt, is the issue of using coal for producing electricity, particularly in cement factories. Cement production is an energy-intensive industry, and company owners have been pushing the government to allow them to use coal, to increase productive capacity at their plants, despite the fact that Egypt already has one of the worst pollution levels in the world.
Obviously, burning coal for energy is disastrous, to public health, to the environment, to agriculture, etc, and is the main cause of Global Warming. Burning coal destroys lung tissue, causes congestive heart failure, black lung disease, asthma, and many other health hazards. But, it’s cheap, and supports maximization of short-term profit for business.
It is also worth noting that some of the biggest cement companies in Egypt are owned by foreign firms, like Suez Cement, whose majority shareholder is Italcementi, an Italian multinational which is the 5th largest producer of cement in the world, and has assets equivalent to about a third of Egypt’s national revenues. That’s just one company throwing its weight behind the deregulation of the use of coal by the cement industry in Egypt.
Not surprisingly, in the beginning of April, the cabinet of the Coup approved the use of coal for energy in cement plants, and all attempts by environmental and public health NGOs to appeal against this decision have been frustrated. In fact, when a case was filed calling for a ban on burning coal, the judge presiding over the case was pressured by the corporate-backed regime to step down.
Companies like Italcementi and Lafarge operating in Egypt have no stake in the public health and welfare. If burning coal causes environmental catastrophe, widespread illness, agricultural ruin, and urban deterioration all across the country, they lose nothing.
Under the Coup, all challenges to the activities of foreign companies have been voided; all imaginable regulations that could potentially keep ruthless corporate self-interest balanced against the public good, are being systematically, and rapidly dissolved.
The government has become little more than a mechanism for collaboration between the officer-CEOs of the Egyptian Army Inc, multinational corporations and foreign investors, with the interests, and even the very survivall of the Egyptian people completely disregarded.