A fresh start? Not really. Meet Egypt's 'new' economic cabinet
With the Egyptian Cabinet sworn in earlyTuesday, many of the economic team remained familiar. Nine ministers from the old cabinet were reappointed in their positions, maintaining ongoing projects within the ministry. Meanwhile, several reappointed ministers have taken on new responsibilities. The Daily News Egypt reintroduces the reappointed ministers and addresses the ministry’s ongoing projects and agendas.
Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment: Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour
Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour will continue as the Foreign Trade and Industry Minister. In February, following the resignation of Hazem El-Beblawi’s cabinet, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry was merged with the Investment Ministry. This will not be the case in the new cabinet, however, with the minister required to take responsibility for the development and follow-up on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Abdel Nour was a member of Al-Wafd party. He had previously held the position of secretary general of the National Salvation Front (NSF) and served as tourism minister under the cabinet of Ahmed Shafiq in 2011. He also held a spot on the National Council for Human Rights.
Following his appointment, Abdel Nour flew to several European countries and the United States to lure new investments. He embarked on his tour following the approval of the new constitution, deemed the first step to implementing the political road map adopted after former President Mohamed Morsi’s removal on 3 July.
Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou has also maintained his post. Zaazou has been focusing on developing the tourism sector in Egypt and increasing the number of visiting tourists. Tourist numbers have seen significant setbacks following the January 2011 revolution as a result of political instability and recurring bombings. According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the year-on-year decrease in tourists’ arrivals during the month of April registered 21.9%.
In February, during the opening of the 33rd edition of the International Heath Hotel Expo, Zazzou said he expects that the number of tourists arriving in Egypt to increase to 12.5million as opposed to 9.5million last year.
Minister of Supply and Internal Trade: Khaled Hanafy
Khaled Hanafy was reappointed as the Minister of Supply and Internal Trade. Hanafy was an economy professor, holding a Master’s degree in Regional Economic Development from the University of Alexandria and a PhD in International Trade. He also holds diplomas and certificates from George Washington University, Thunderbird in Arizona, and the University of Louisiana.
Positions previously held by Hanafy included: the chairman of the Internal Trade Development Authority (ITDA); dean of the Faculty of International Transport and Logistics in the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport; executive director of the Arab Institute for Trade and Commodity Exchanges; and head of Marketing and International Business at the Arab Academy.
In March, the minister dubbed the bread distribution system in Egypt as a” failure”, noting that the system has wasted between 20% and 25% of the state’s bread subsidies budget. Following his announcements, the minister introduced a new bread distribution system in Port Said and several other Canal provinces using ration cards.
The Ministry of Supply is also working with real estate developers to explore the possibility of establishing the country’s first integrated commercial city, hoping to boost shopping, tourism and job-creation.
Minister of Finance: Hany Dimian
Hany Kadry Dimian will be returning as the Minister of Finance. In 2008 Dimian served as the chairman of deputies for the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial committee. According to Reuters, Dimian was “appointed as deputy finance minister in 2007, serving under then Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali.”
Dimian had also held the position of first deputy finance minister from October 2012 to July 2013, resigning during the presidency of former president Mohamed Morsi.
Following his appointment in February, Dimian said that Egypt’s budget deficit is expected to register between 11% and 12% of GDP by the end of the 2013/2014 fiscal year (FY). He added that the growth rate is expected to record from 2% to 2.5% of GDP.
In May, the cabinet imposed an additional “exceptional” tax of 5% on individuals with an annual income exceeding EGP 1m for a period of three years, known as the “wealth tax”. The Ministry of Finance has also announced the capital gain tax, which met with criticism from investors and stock traders, but was deemed a “final and irreversible” decision by Dimian.
Minister of Planning: Ashraf El-Araby
The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation are now separated. Former Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ashraf El-Araby will be handling his duties as the Minister of Planning only. Al-Araby’s focus is now on the completion of the first stimulus package’s projects. On Monday, El-Araby told state-run news agency MENA that around 75% are completed, adding that the remaining 25% will be complete within one to two months. Al-Araby will also take responsibility of administrative development duties.
Minister of Communications and Information Technology: Atef Helmy
Atef Helmy, the current communications minister has maintained his position in the new government. During the IPO summit, the minister announced that EGP 130bn will be needed to develop Egypt’s communications and information technology infrastructure by 2020. The government is expected to invest 15% in the project.
The projects are expected to offer 1 million job opportunities by 2020, of which 200,000 will be direct. The minister said Egypt will adopt measures to enable government agencies to access and interact cost-effectively with information at high speed.
Minister of Petroleum: Sherif Ismail
Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sherif Ismail was reappointed to the new economics team. Ismail has been the petroleum minister since July 2013, when he was first appointed by former Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi. Ismail has previously served as the Executive Deputy Chairman and then Chairman of the Egyptian Holding Company for Petrochemicals (ECHEM).
The ministry has been introducing smartcards for fuel distribution, reducing smuggling and subsidies rationalising during the El-Beblawi cabinet. So far, two million citizens have received the cards.
On 31 June, Ismail discussed ongoing projects in the petroleum sector saying that new gas wells will begin production during the first quarter of the next fiscal year. Production rates would be raised, securing energy needs and reducing import rates and the number of power outages. Ismail did not specify the wells in question, but said that his ministry is currently working to secure the country’s petroleum needs by increasing production rates in coordination with foreign companies
Minister of Electricity: Mohamed Shaker
Shaker graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University and holds a PhD in electrical engineering from Imperial College, London. He is President of Shaker Consultancy Group which collaborates with several international engineering firms in addition to coordinating several high voltage substation projects with the Egyptian Electricity Authority.
In May, Shaker announced that the Ministry of Electricity is looking into using solar energy to generate power to light outdoor advertising banners instead of depending on traditional electricity.
Recurring electricity outages over the past three years due to natural gas and diesel shortages have prompted the government to search for energy alternatives, including solar power and wind energy. The government has previously announced that by 2020, it is aiming to meet 20% of the country’s energy needs using wind, solar and other renewable power sources.
Minister of Housing: Mostafa Madbouly
Madbouly has held several positions within the Ministry of Housing prior to his appointment, including chairman of the General Authority for Urban Planning. Madbouly holds a PhD in Architecture from Cairo University. He specialised in city planning at the Institute of National Planning and Urban and Regional Architecture Faculty of the University of Karlsruhe, Germany.
The ministry is working on developing housing for low-income Egyptian through the social housing programme, which was adopted by the Egyptian government following the January 2011 revolution. The programme aims to offer 1m residential units to low-income citizens with the purpose of achieving social justice.