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CAIRO, July 10, 2018 (MENA) - Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli said that the files of administrative and legislative reform are of top priority to the government.

The administrative reform plan includes institutional development, upgrading individual capabilities and improving governmental services and information and data systems, he said.

This came during Madbouli's meeting with Minister of Planning Hala el Saeed and a number of officials of the Ministry of Planning to review the country's administrative reform strategy.

The premier stressed the need to accelerate the pace of reforms across the board.

During the meeting, Saeed reviewed the detailed vision on an integrated administrative reform plan that aims at achieving the country's sustainable development strategy "Egypt Vision 2030".

On institutional development, Saeed presented programmes on sound governance which targets improving the efficiency of the administrative apparatus  and making better management of resources.

 

By the Gazette Editorial Board

While presenting the government's plan of action for the next four years, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli promised that most Egyptians would benefit from the fruits of reform in the next two years. He said the government was committed to the poor and because of that, it would expand the social protection network to make sure that no one had to beg for a living.

 

While presenting the government's plan of action for the next four years, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli promised that most Egyptians would benefit from the fruits of reform in the next two years. He said the government was committed to the poor and because of that, it would expand the social protection network to make sure that no one had to beg for a living.

 

Dr Madbouli, who was part of the economic reform policy launched by the former government of Sherif Ismail, does realise the significance and effect of the promises he made this week on behalf of his government, not only to gain a vote of confidence from parliament but also to reassure the public, at a time when the cost of supplies and services, including electricity, fuel and transport, has increased.

 

The Egyptians have wisely borne the harsh austerity measures imposed by the economic reform, with patience.

 

They have put up with the bitter consequences of the devaluation of the local currency that was accompanied by a tsunami of increases in the price of various commodities and services.  Now that subsidies on various services and utilities have been reduced even more, people are in dire need of reassurance from the government, about the future. 

 

To overcome the present hardship, the Egyptians need a good rise in their income and a cut in the taxes they have to pay on their limited salaries; but not only that, they also need to feel a real improvement in basic services, such as education and health.

 

Even before the new government was sworn in, President Sisi was keen to announce new allowances would be paid out to state employees and pensioners at the start of the new fiscal year. Yet, people knew that any rise in income would be eaten up by the expected rise in the prices of commodities, such as the recent increase in the price of fuel.

 

Thus, Madbouli's government should focus at this stage on improving the services being offered to citizens especially in the health and education sectors, and on not adding to the burdens they have to shoulder.  

 

Poor and middle-class people would really feel the benefits of reform if their children were given a good free education and health service.

 

This is something the government could achieve if it allocated the new increase in the budget to improving the quality of education in government schools and to enforcing the new health insurance law that was recently endorsed by parliament.

 

But first, the infrastructure of the health and education institutions needs to be improved. The medical staff and the teachers should be given good training and good salaries to help them live a dignified life; that is the only way to guarantee a rapid and thorough implementation of the new reform programmes prepared for these two basic services.

CAIRO, July 3, 2018 (MENA) - The Egyptian cabinet convened its weekly meeting on Tuesday to review several political, economic and social files.

Discussions tackled reports on the quality of services offered to citizens as well as the progress realized so far in the national projects being implemented in various governorates.

The cabinet reviewed as well a number of draft laws and important ministerial decisions which aim to realize more economic and social stability and boost investment.

It followed up the measures taken under directives of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in order to support low-income strata.

Earlier Tuesday, the government under Moustafa Madbouli had reviewed during a parliamentary session its policy statement which focused on Egypt's national security and foreign policy, which has in its heart ways to counter terrorist operations and crimes and secure archaeological sites.

It also has to do with upgrading security services offered to citizens and promoting the tolerance of Islam in the face of extremism.

While reading out the statement before the House of Representatives, Madbouli promised that the government will be seeking to enhance the role played by cultural institutions as it fights extremist ideologies.

He said as well that the government will have in mind maintaining the Egyptian identity of expats, as well as confronting irregular migration, promoting citizenship and protecting human rights and basic freedoms.

 

By the Gazette Editorial Board

In 2014, the government decided to resume its role in creating housing units affordable for people of low income as well as middle class citizens. The aim was to solve the chronic housing problem that had engulfed society for decades because of the monopoly of the private sector over the housing market. The government’s absence from the housing sector had caused price hikes of various units even in regions that suffer poor public utilities and services.

Thus citizens, especially of the middle class, found what they needed in government projects such as that of Dar Misr that the Ministry of Housing started to create in the new cities. Dar Misr had an especially high appeal. It provided units with relatively big spaces at affordable prices for people of the middle class.

Parallel to this, the ministry's New Urban Communities Authority created some other subsidised social housing projects so that the poor could rent or even own a housing unit to be paid for in instalments over a longer term via the mortgage system.

It is true that the ministry continued to follow a policy of creating more stages of the project in the various governorates to meet public demand for these units especially those of Dar Misr.

The continuous rise of the price per metre of this project, however, raised public concern that it would lead to a price rise of housing units on the market in general rather than lead to the needed price balance in the housing sector.

Thus, the recent announcement of the head of the New Urban Communities Authority that the Dar Misr project would start producing luxury housing should raise public concern, for it empties the entire project of its aim of supporting people of the middle class.

In a recent statement to the press, Walid Abbas, justified this new trend in the Authority's policy by saying swimming pools and artificial lakes would be supplied to beautify the project. In other words, the ministry meant to turn a social project targeting the middle class into one offering units for wealthy people. The price of the metre proves this.

According to press reports, it would range between LE9,000 and LE10,000 per metre in this new proposed stage of the project to be created in the new cities, such as Sheikh Zayed and Sixth of October cities, rather than its original price of LE3,400-LE4,000 per metre when it was first launched in 2014.

On the one hand, this new policy and its prices would not only divert the project from its main target of serving middle class people, who have suffered much because of the ongoing economic reforms launched in November 2016, but would also contribute to a fresh price rise per metre of land and housing units created by the private sector.

Most importantly, wealthy people do not resort to state created projects to own a flat to live in. They look for more luxurious housing compounds that offer units with bigger spaces and much better facilities and are prepared to pay millions of pounds for a flat.

What is even more to be feared is the turning of the Dar Misr project into an attraction for those who would buy such units as an investment to hold till they can make a profit out of them, rather than to live in them.

Thus, this new policy would turn the Dar Misr project into a fresh complication in the housing problem rather than part of its solution.

Staff Report:

CAIRO, June 5, 2018 - Prime Minister Sherif Ismail filed the resignation of his government to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on Tuesday evening, two days after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi was officially sworn in for a second term until 2022, Presidency Spokesman Bassam Rady said Tuesday.

The spokesman said that President Sisi instructed the old government to continue its regular work until a new government is formed.

 

 

CAIRO, June 5, 2018 (MENA) - The Egyptian government has decided to import needed quantities of rice to meet market demands and match the same high quality of the locally produced rice.

The move aims to control the market and increase the supply.

The decision was taken at a meeting that Prime Minister Sherif Ismail held on Tuesday, in the presence of the ministers of supply and agriculture along with representatives of several competent bodies.

During the meeting, the prime minister asserted that all needed measures will be taken to boost the supply of rice products in the market and prevent bottlenecks in the coming phase.

The prime minister has assigned the Finance Ministry to make needed studies for the establishment of a special crisis management unit to address price fluctuations at the global markets, especially when it comes to importing basic strategic commodities including petroleum, crude oil and wheat products.

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