Egypt appoints 13 new ministers in cabinet reshuffle

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CAIRO – Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Saturday announced a cabinet reshuffle to improve the performance of his government as it faces towering economic challenges largely a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The cabinet turmoil, which was approved by parliament in an emergency session, affected 13 portfolios, including ministries of health, education, culture, local development and irrigation.

The tourism portfolio was also part of the realignment, an important task at a time when Egypt is struggling to revive its lucrative sector, which has been decimated by years of unrest, the pandemic and most recently the war in Europe.

However, the changes did not affect the main ministries, including Foreign Affairs, Finance, Defense and Home Affairs, which are responsible for the police.

El-Sissi said the commotion came in consultation with Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly. He said in a Facebook post that the changes were aimed at “developing government performance in some key files … that help protect the state’s interests and capabilities.”

The new ministers are expected to be sworn in before el-Sissi later Saturday or early Sunday.

Egypt’s economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine, which shook global markets and spiked oil and food prices around the world.

Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, most of which come from Russia and Ukraine. The country’s offering is subject to price changes in the international market.

In recent months, the government has been in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a new loan to support the reform program and to address the challenges posed by the war in Europe. The government has received pledges from wealthy Arab Gulf states for billions of dollars in investments, some of which are for private industry.

Egyptians’ food and energy bills have skyrocketed, adding even more weight to the burden of poor and middle-class people who already bore the flames of a 2016 reform program. That program, agreed with the IMF, included painful austerity measures that led to a sharp rise in the price of basic and essential goods and services.

A recent devaluation of the Egyptian pound, which already lost half of its value in 2016, sparked further increases in the price of food and other commodities.

The annual inflation rate for July was 14.6%, more than double the same month last year when it stood at 6.1%, according to the official statistics office.

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