Cairo set for another cabinet reshuffle

17 January 2017

Cabinet change will be the third since 2013 ousting of Muslim Brotherhood

Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has said he is planning a cabinet reshuffle, according to an interview with Egypt’s premier in the country’s state newspaper Al-Ahram.

“Yes, there will be a reshuffle and very soon…. We will fix what needs fixing and improve performance,” Al-Sisi said, without giving more details.

It remains unclear whether Prime Minister Sherif Ismail will retain his position.

The last cabinet reshuffle took place in March 2016, when Al-Sisi named 10 new ministers, including changes to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Investment.

The cabinet reshuffle will be another attempt by the president to improve Egypt’s economy, which has been struggling since protests that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Egypt’s economy has faced major headwinds in recent years, with revenues from tourism, the Suez Canal and foreign investment having dried up.

Despite this, the existing cabinet has been hailed for its bravery to apply key economic reforms after Cairo secured a $12bn loan from the Washington-based IMF in late 2016.

The most notable reform was the flotation of the Egyptian pound in November last year, which saw the currency devalue by almost 60 per cent overnight. Other reforms include a curbing of fuel and food subsidies, the introduction of a value-added tax (VAT) and plans to privately list some state-owned companies.

More recently, US ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service said it expects Egypt’s economy to grow by at least 4 per cent in 2017/18. A report by Moody’s says its forecast for the North African country is supported largely by private consumption and that “Egypt retains the region’s highest economic strength assessment, which reflects not only its scale but also its growth outlook compared to peers”.

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