Genuine response to expat forum’s recommendations
By the Gazette Editorial Board
The state’s genuine interest in fostering multi-faceted links with expatriates has over the past few years gained noticeable depth and significance. A few days ago, Migration and Expatriate Affairs Minister Nabila Makram convened a meeting with the representatives of all government ministries and departments concerned specifically to follow up the recommendations of the First Forum for Egyptian Expatriates that the ministry organised last month. Coming as it did less just few weeks after the First Forum for Egyptian Expatriates had been held, the timing of the follow up meeting clearly evidenced the seriousness of the state in considering ways and means putting those recommendations into effect or at least benefiting from them in developing stronger links with expatriates.
Also consolidating the significance of the follow up meeting is the participation of representatives of as many as 10 government ministries; namely, the interior, foreign affairs, social solidarity, finance, education, higher education, communications, housing, investment and industry, in addition to representatives of the Central Bank of Egypt and national banks. Obviously, these are the government ministries operating in almost all the areas of interest for the millions of Egyptians working and/or living abroad. Bringing the representatives of all such ministries together provides solid indication of the keenness of the state on giving due consideration to the views and proposals that our expatriates forwarded when they gathered for the first forum.
A reading of media reports and coverage of the follow up meeting reveals that the participants came to the meeting after having carefully studied those recommendations – yet one more indication of the seriousness of the move. And a discussion of one recommendation for permitting expatriates to pay customs duties on imported cars in installments found the CBE representation ready with a set of proposals for effectuating the recommendation, including through a joint initiative by the central bank and national banks to offer expats soft-term loans for the settlement of customs duties. Another discussion on ways of expediting the issuance of civil status documents also found the representative of the ministry of the interior tabling a set of proposals for consideration including the initiation a single-counter-system at some Civil Status Sector branches and extending working hours until 08.00pm, in addition to facilitating the renewal of IDs by applying the same procedures for the issuance of passports and birth certificates.
This sample of responses to the first forum’s recommendations indicate that all government ministries and state departments are reflecting utmost awareness of the state attitude of fostering links with expatriates and offering them as much facilities as possible in acknowledgement of their efforts to establish scientific, academic and professional distinction. And it was in this context that the follow up meeting was informed of a highly-valuable proposal by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina to receive academic dissertations submitted by Egyptians abroad to qualify for masters and PhD degrees. In addition to serving as rich reference materials, the envisaged collection would highlight the profound contribution of expatriates to the advancement of knowledge and science.