By Ahmed Mokhtar
Abdullah Ghorab, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, has said that the petroleum sector was able to persevere and see some success, despite the difficulties that have faced the Egyptian economy and negatively impacted a number of sectors. He noted that petroleum workers performed well despite the significant increase in demand for fuel and other petroleum products that exceeded normal rates.
Ghorab expects the current state of political stability will positively impact the petroleum sector and that it will see quick growth in the coming period. He noted that the sector’s strong companies and rich human and natural resources make it capable of overcoming challenges and achieving growth.
The Minister expressed his disappointment that some have judged the performance of the petroleum sector based on the gas and fuel crisis, saying that chaos, not the incompetence of the workers, caused the distribution problems. He noted that it is necessary to judge the sector as a whole in light of the difficult circumstances facing Egypt.
Ghorab advised that the government must quickly deal with the issue of rationalising subsidies, saying that the status quo is untenable. He said that all countries that have been able to grow economically rationalised spending and used their resources more efficiently. The minister noted that billions of pounds are currently being wasted on subsidies that benefit those who don’t deserve them, representing a large obstacle to any type of economic reform.
The Minister questioned the wisdom of continuing to spend close to EGP 100 billion annually on subsidies that do not benefit the needy at the same time that the state is unable to provide financing for basic public services such as medical care and education.
He said that the solution is not to cancel the subsidies, but to redirect them to those who need them. He noted that a number of other countries issue coupons or smart cards to individuals that qualify for subsidised goods. Ghorab noted that it is a difficult decision for any government to make, but that Egyptian citizens will accept subsidy rationalisation if they are confident that the reforms are in the interest of achieving justice and if needy citizens do not bear any additional financial burdens.
Ghorab said that he was satisfied with the time he served as Minister of Petroleum and that he is prepared to assist any government in the interests of serving Egypt, but that he will not join any political party.