Boutros Ghali gets new post

23 November 2001

Youssef Boutros Ghali, one of the key figures in Egypt's economic reform programme since the mid-1980s, has been given the task of promoting exports in his new post as minister of foreign trade. The change in his post was announced as part of a minor cabinet reshuffle on 21 November. President Mubarak signalled the move the previous week, announcing that he wanted to abolish the Economy Ministry, and transfer most of its functions to the Central Bank of Egypt. Boutros Ghali was previously minister of economy & foreign trade (MEED 23:11:01).

The other changes affected the electricity, industry, planning and environment portfolios.

The loss of the economy portfolio should not be seen as a reduction in the influence of Boutros Ghali, one senior Egyptian banker says. Boutros Ghali has long sought to strengthen the role of the central bank, and the reshuffle follows the appointment as central bank governor of a man regarded as Boutros Ghali's favoured candidate. The governor, Mahmoud Abul-Ayoun, will now be in charge of exchange rate policy and supervision of banks and insurance companies, reporting directly to Prime Minister Atef Obeid. Boutros Ghali is expected to retain influence over the general direction of policy via the ministerial economic committee.

Egypt's exports rose to $7,078 million in 2000/01 (July-June) from an average of just over $5,000 million a year in the second half of the 1990s. However, the government is looking to achieve much higher rates of export growth in the period ahead, in light of the decline of Egyptian oil exports and the anticipated loss of tourism income over the next 18 months.

The electricity & energy minister is Hassan Younis, who was made chairman of the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company in early 2000. The previous minister, Ali el-Saeedi, has been appointed minister of technological development & industry, replacing Mustafa el-Rifai. Mohamed Osman has been appointed planning minister - a post that no longer includes dealing with international aid - and Mamdouh Tadros has been appointed minister of state for environmental affairs, replacing Nadia Makram Obeid. The reshuffle has also entailed the appointment of Faiza Abu el-Naga as minister of state for foreign affairs.

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