What did change in Egypt during Gamal Nasser’s presidency?
In 1956 Nasser nationalized the Anglo-French Suez Canal Company to finance the construction of a new High Dam at Aswan, following the World Bank’s refusal to advance Egypt a promised 200 million dollars. All private banks and insurance companies, as well as firms in heavy and basic industries, were nationalized. In addition to this, 83 companies were required to sell more than 50 percent of their shares to public agencies. Keen to end feudalism, Nasser in 1952 introduced the Agrarian reform law (Law 168), limiting individuals to 200 feddans (roughly an acre), though this was later amended to 100 feddans. Any surplus lands were taken over by the government with a fixed compensation paid to the landowners, as well as introducing co-operatives for farmers to work together in obtaining farm supplies. The lives of peasants across the country was never better as a minimum wage was set for farm workers as well as rent controls. Between 1952 and 1966, 7 billion Egyptian pounds in shared and public assets were transferred to public ownership. Nasser brought introduced a policy of consumption subsidies, designed to help the millions on the bottom of the economic ladder by making foods and fuels affordable to the masses.