Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Egyptian cabinet dominated by champions of free market economy

iol news pic Mideast Egypt Key Figures~1
Ahmed Galal, sworn is as minister of Finance
Egypt has a new cabinet, a transitional cabinet, that will try to rule till hopefully in a couple of months there will be a new constitution and new elections can be held. In the meantime it has the impossible task of  putting the economy on its feet, or at least avoid it to collapse.
The path chosen in doing so is liberal economics. To begin with Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi himself, all members of the economic section of the 33 members strong cabinet are liberal economists and champions of a free market economy.  Minister of Finance is Ahmed Galal, who holds a doctorate in economics from Boston University. He has been the managing director of the Economic Research Forum (ERF), a Cairo-based non-governmental research institution covering the Middle East, since 2007. Before that he served with the World Bank for 18 years.
Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, a businessman, is minister of Industry. He began his career at American Express and later founded the Vitrac Company in 1980, manufacturer of jams, that made him a millionaire. He was also the board member of the Cairo and Alexandria stock exchange. Abdel Nour is a Copt. He became the secretary-general of the Wafd Party and was appointed minister of tourism to the Cabinet led by then Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq in February 2011.
Minister of Investment is Osama Saleh, a banker, he is one of the ministers from the former cabinet of Hesham Qandil who stayed on. Minister of  Development Cooperation (and second Deputy Prime Minister) is Ziad Bahaa Ed-Din, a banker who held posts in the national bank of Egypt and who is a co-founder of the (liberal) Social Democratic Party. 
In contrast to this the ministry of Manpower went to Kamal Abu Eita, a leftist  (Nasserist) and a born labor activist, who has been in prison under Mubarak. He was at the cradle of the first independent trade union, the Real Estate Tax Authority Independent General Union, in 2009 after leading the Tax Authority employees’ national strike in 2007. He was a member of the short lived post-Mubarak parliament and ran on a ticket of the Freedom and Justice Party’s electoral list.  
Remarkable of this cabinet are that it counts three women and also three Copts (one of them also woman), which is below the average so far in Egyptian history. The three Copts are the afore mentioned Mounir Abdel Nour, plus Ramzy George, who got the ministry of Scientific Research, and Laila Iskander, a woman who has been working with the gigantic problem of waste mannagement in Cairo and who now gets the portfolio of the Environment. The women besides Laila Iskander are Maha al-Rabat, who is Egypt's first female minister of Health ever, and  Doria Sharaf Ed-Din who became minister of Information. Sharaf Ed-Din is a critic, writer and famous former TV host, who worked as the the main the national censor. The ministry of Information was maintained, by the way, after some discussion, as some thought it to be outdated.
For the rest it is obvious that the Defense, Interior and Exterior triangle, is kept firmly in the hands of the army and what may be called the 'establisment'. The real strongman of the cabinet is of course minister of Defense and Deputy Prime minister general Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi. Kept over from the former Qandil-cabinet is minister of the Interior, major general Mohammed Ibrahim, a man who was sharply criticized by the opposition for his handling of last year's football massacre in Port Said. Foreign Affairs went to Nabil Ismail Fahmy, Egyptian ambassador to Japan and to Washington under Mubarak and the founding dean of the school of public affairs in the American University of Cairo. He is the son of late minister of foreign affairs Ismail Fahmy and a member in the Constitution party headed by ElBaradei. (ElBaradei once was an aide to his father). Fahmy has good relations with the Americans. He is described as a brilliant career diplomat, whose shadow side is that he was also always a faithful defender of Mubarak's policies.

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