By Salma El Wardany and Ahmed Khalil El-Sayed
Egyptian lawmakers approved the appointment of a former senior central bank official as tourism minister, one of four cabinet changes after President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for a reshuffle.
Rania Al-Mashat, who held a top position at the bank before moving to the International Monetary Fund, takes over at the Tourism Ministry as overseas arrivals have recently been climbing after the vital sector was hit hard by the downing of a Russian airliner in 2015 and other militant violence.
In other appointments, the head of Egypt’s statistics agency was confirmed as local development minister, while Khaled Badawi, chief executive of National of Bank of Egypt unit Al-Ahli Capital, took over the public sector portfolio. Ines Abdel Daim, who formerly ran the Cairo Opera, was approved as culture minister. The reshuffle came as Egypt gears up for presidential elections slated for March.
Local media had earlier reported a more far reaching overhaul of the cabinet, including splitting the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation into two entities, and the replacement of the agriculture minister, who had been dogged by a fight over the permissible levels of the ergot fungus in wheat imports. Several Egyptian newspapers had said up to seven ministries could see changes.
The new faces at the public sector and local development ministries come as the government is seeking to extend its program of economic reforms by selling stakes in some key state companies on the Egyptian bourse, slimming down a bloated public sector and improving local services.
— With assistance by Tarek El-Tablawy