Egypt Replaces Finance, Security Chiefs in Major Overhaul

(Bloomberg) -- Egypt replaced its finance, defense and interior ministers as the Arab world’s most populous nation pushes ahead with its twin focus on boosting the economy and combating terrorism.

The cabinet is the first formed by new Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly, who served as caretaker premier while his predecessor underwent medical treatment overseas.

The Finance Ministry is now led by Mohamed Maait, most recently head of its treasury affairs division. He replaces Amr El-Garhy, the former investment executive who helped spearhead the government’s sweeping economic reform program that was launched in 2016 and backed by a $12 billion International Monetary Fund loan.

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi moved some of his closest military advisers to the top security jobs.

Lieutenant General Mohamed Zaky was appointed defense minister, and has the job of eradicating the threat posed by Islamist militants in north Sinai. He’s a former paratroop commander and most recently served as head of the presidential guard. General Mahmoud Tawfiq, who headed the homeland security division at the Interior Ministry, became the new interior minister.

Two Women

Madbouly retained his job as housing minister, according to the ministry spokesman’s official Facebook page, as well as taking over as premier. In all, 12 new ministers -- including two women -- were sworn in.

Economic measures to revive growth and restore investor confidence were launched in November 2016 with the flotation of the pound. The end of currency controls sent inflation soaring beyond 30 percent last year, deepening the hardship of the roughly 50 million Egyptians who live near or below the poverty line. Price gains have since receded. The latest step to curb the country’s subsidy bill was implemented Tuesday -- major increases to electricity tariffs.

The reforms have won foreign cash but much of the money so far has been funneled into the local debt and stock markets. Foreign direct investment dropped an annual 21 percent in the second quarter of the current fiscal year, according to the state news agency.

Among other key personnel, Supplies Minister Ali El-Mosilhy, who oversees Egypt’s grain purchase program, kept his job, while Ezeedin Abu Setit became the new agriculture minister. International Cooperation and Investment Minister Sahar Nasr and Tourism Minister Rania Mashat, a former top central bank official, stayed in their posts.

The new ministers also include:

  • Hala Zayed - Health
  • Yasmine Abdel-Aziz - Environment
  • Ezzedin Abu Setit - Agriculture
  • Amr Talaat - Telecom
  • Amr Nassar - Industry and Trade
  • Hisham Tawfiq - Public Sector
  • Mahmoud Sharawi - Local Development
  • Ashraf Sobhi - Youth and Sports
  • Younes El-Masry - Civil Aviation

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