New ministers to face challenges of country’s top issues from 2016 

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Among the cabinet reshuffle that took place on Tuesday, five ministers will run ministries related to social welfare and services. Each of the five ministers will face the challenge of solving a number of Egypt’s top issues that have been ongoing for the past two years.

The cabinet reshuffle of new eight ministers and the merging of two others was declared after the Egyptian parliament approved it on Tuesday.

The five aforementioned ministers included Abdul Moneim El-Banna as Minister of Agriculture, Tarek Shawky as Minister of Education, Omar Marwan as Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mohamed Hesham El-Sherif as Minister of Local Development, and Hesham Arafat as Minister of Transportation.

Each minister will be in charge of finding a plan to solve certain issues that have been ongoing for the past two years; former ministers’ efforts have not sufficed to deal with them or put an end to their consequences.

Starting with the Ministry of Education, Shawky will be in charge of solving one of the country’s top controversial issues that occurred last year, when secondary school exams were leaked during the exam season. The upcoming exams will start three months from now; thus, the new minster must prepare plans to ensure the same issue does not arise again.

The former minister failed to stop the leaks. Despite changing the exam schedule and referring officials from the ministry to investigation, the leaks continued.

The leaks did not only occur last year. Leakers in the past few years offered exam questions to students through mobile phones in exchange for money.

Regarding the transportation ministry, over the past few years thousands of Egyptians have been killed in road and train accidents—a result of poor road infrastructure and insufficient speed-control mechanisms.

2016 witnessed a large number of accidents despite the dismissal of officials in transportation. Furthermore, over the past three years, there were major train accidents, especially near Al-Ayyat, Giza.

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said the number of road accidents in Egypt increased to 14,500 in 2015—a 1% increase from the year before. Accidents resulted in EGP 30.2bn of financial losses last year, according to CAPMAS.

As for the Minister of Local Development, the file that tackles the issue of floods will be in the forefront of his work, as a number of Lower and Upper Egypt governorates have suffered because of floods.

Heavy floods led to the destruction of many houses and large areas of land, and to the death of many people. Despite the state’s allocation of finances to tackle the flood issue, nothing solid was implemented, and floods continued even during this last winter.

Moreover, the last three months of 2016 saw a sharp shortage in sugar, considered one of the country’s essential products. This shortage came as a result of the agriculture minister’s failure to offer sugar to the citizens. Both agriculture and importing ensure the presence of sugar in Egyptian retail markets’ shelves. Due to an international hike price of importing, the ministry was unable to provide sugar by the end of 2016.

This shortage still continues, and the new agriculture minister is required to come up with plans to help return sugar to the market.

Last but not least, the Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Omar Marwan, has to consider an integrated community dialogue while discussing new legislations, because during the first year of the parliament a number of laws were approved without sufficient listening sessions for all concerned groups.

Several laws were approved, such as the Non-Governmental Organisation Law and the Civil Service Law, only to be met later with criticism.

All the aforementioned issues still take place, and there seems to be no improvement in their status. Plans are to be set forth to limit these issues’ progression and consequences.

Prime Minsiter Sherif Ismail previously stated that the change is part of the government’s economic and social reform plans. He stated that choosing the new ministers will rely on each minister’s ability to achieve the current phase’s goals and that there are certain standards that are to be met in order for them to be elected.

 

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