A caretaker cabinet was sworn in Saturday morning with 16 new ministers introduced in a government that is expected to serve until, at least, the long-awaited assembly of a parliament in January.
“It was agreed with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi that the government will provide a comprehensive programme about its performance, its future and its vision for the next parliament to determine whether or not it will be replaced,” the newly-appointed Prime Minister Sherif Ismail revealed in a press conference following taking the oath.
Ismail said that the government is committed to completing the elections with integrity and transparency, explaining that the government has short-term and medium-term visions that depend on increasing the rates of development and security for citizens.
He said the government requires real, comprehensive and fast development, noting that the government will confront corruption firmly, as there is no place for it in Egypt.
Regarding the selection criteria for new ministers, Ismail said it ensured work efficiency, achievement, and rapid performance, adding that the current phase requires quick solutions. He noted that there is no immediate plan for a governors’ reshuffle.
While the Ministers of Defence, Interior, Foreign Affairs, Justice and Investment kept their positions, the change in the cabinet saw new Ministers of Education, Industry and Trade, Tourism, Local Development, International Cooperation, Military Production, Health and Population, Petroleum, Higher Education, Transportation, Communications, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Culture, Immigration and Egyptians Abroad, Agriculture, and Manpower.
The Ministry of Education was merged with the Ministry of Vocational Education, and the same occurred with Ministries of Health and Population, while the Ministry of Urban Development was dissolved, and the Ministry of Transitional Justice was reformed to become the Ministry of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
According to the constitution, upon assembly of the parliament the president has to assign a Prime Minister to form a cabinet and present his programme, and in the case that the parliament turns down the cabinet, the majority coalition will have to nominate a prime minister to form a new cabinet that must gain the trust of the parliament. If the parliament does not approve the new cabinet, it be considered dissolved.
Leading contenders in the parliamentary race weighed in on the new cabinet and its short-term role. Spokesman of Al-Wafd Party, the prominent liberal and oldest party in Egypt, told Daily News Egypt that he does not perceive any change in the new government.
“I don’t know what their mandate is, three or so months is not enough to take actual decisions,” Tarek El-Khouly said.
“I hope they have the courage to make decisive decisions and I wish them success,” he added.
The elections are set to kick off mid-October and to last until December, with the first parliamentary session expected to assemble in January. However, even after the president is expected to give up part of his power to form a government, which he currently holds exclusively, to the parliament, politicians are still uncertain regarding how the post-parliament cabinet will look like.
“We will have to wait and see how the government will perform [prior to the parliament’s assembly],” spokesman of the Free Egyptians Party Shehab Waguih told Daily News Egypt.
Waguih said that it is positive that the government was formed within a week, as promised, however adding: “It is too early to say how this will change after the parliament.”
However, El-Khouly said that it is only natural that after electing a parliament, a government and opposition will be formed in synchronicity.
“I cannot foretell whether party figures will be included in the government or dependence on technocrats will continue. However, that will make a difference in the weight and nature of the opposition,” he said.
Ismail met with over 50 new ministerial candidates before choosing the new faces. His government will set sights on improving the economic status and assuring energy supplies are met.
According to the newly-appointed prime minister, the current government will provide its best efforts, as they have a clear mandate from the president to complete all national projects, such as the 1.5m acres reclamation project, and to attract new investments.
Ismail said the Egyptian economy is suffering, noting that they will fight to implement the objectives of reducing the state budget of deficit and debt, and achieving better growth rates – if possible. The government will adjust prices through the minister of supply, he added.
The prime minister further said that the emerging gasoline shortage crisis has already been eliminated, noting that Egypt will receive a new gasification ship by the end of October, within Egypt’s efforts to import gas and supply it to factories and power plants.
He added that Egypt will not give up its shares to the Nile Water, as consultations on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are ongoing.