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Meet Egypt's new Prime Minister Sherif Ismail

Ahram Online , Saturday 12 Sep 2015
Sherif Ismail
Egypt's new Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Views: 9966
Views: 9966

As President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi instructs Sherif Ismail, minister of petroleum in the outgoing cabinet of Ibrahim Mahlab, to form a new cabinet as prime minister within a week, questions arise over the background and the identity of Egypt's third premier after the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Looking at the 60-year-old's resume, one might get the sense that he is a technocrat and pragmatic, with zero political activity in terms of joining any political party, or high profile or controversial comments or statements, unlike some other minsters in Mahlab’s outgoing cabinet.

Egypt's new prime minister: Career history

Ismail is a mechanical engineer by trade, who was born in July 1955, is married, and has two children.

Ismail graduated from the faculty of engineering at Ain Shams University in 1978, and started his career at the multinational oil company Mobil.

In 1979 he moved to the Egyptian company engineering for the Petroleum and Process Industries (Enppi), before joining its board of directors till he became the deputy minister of petroleum in charge of oil and gas operations from 2000 to 2005.

In 2005 he became the chairman of the Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) till year 2007 in which he was appointed as the chairman of the Ganoub El-Wadi Petroleum Holding Company (GANOPE).

Ismail had served as petroleum minister since July 2013, first under Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi, and then under Ibrahim Mahlab, who was appointed prime minister in February 2014.

In August, during the tenure of Ismail as petroleum minister, Italy's Eni announced the discovery of gas reserves of up to 30 trillion cubic feet in the sea off the north coast of Egypt, one of the largest gas finds ever in Egypt and in the Mediterranean.

Also during his tenure in July 2014, the government raised fuel prices by up to 78 percent in order to cut fuel subsidies by up to LE44 billion, part of a wider government plan to reduce its budget deficit from 12.8 percent to 10 percent of GDP.

"The decision to appoint Sherif Ismail to the premiership is right on point, as it comes at a time when Egypt needs to focus on economic reform, in which reforming the energy sector is a vital parameter," Osama Kamal, a former petroleum minister, told Ahram Online on Saturday.

"Ismail was successful in managing a number of key issues, including repaying the government's overdue to the petroleum sector, satisfying local energy demand and managing new discoveries," Kamal added.

A glimpse of his views

In August 2014, Ismail gave testimony in former president Hosni Mubarak’s trial on accusations of selling gas to Israel at below market prices, as he used to serve as deputy minister of petroleum in charge of oil and gas operations.

“During this period we started studying the idea of exporting natural gas, after making several major discoveries. There was a surplus Egypt should benefit from, and eventually Egypt wasn’t harmed, as the price of selling the gas was appropriate, and increases the cost price,” Ismail said before court.

Mubarak was acquitted of the charges some three months later.

Moreover, Ismail said in an Interview in September 2014 with Al-Nahar privately-owned TV channel, that he doesn’t mind importing gas from Israel.

“Generally speaking, we need not reject this idea, especially if it will secure added value for Egypt’s economy, which will contribute to activating the use of its gas industry infrastructure,” he said.

New cabinet to face parliament vote

The new cabinet is being formed a few months before the establishment of the long-awaited parliament, elections for which conclude in December. Given this, constitutional law expert Shawky El-Sayed believes that the new cabinet will need to submit its programme to parliament for approval.

"The elected parliament will vote on the programme of the appointed cabinet," El-Sayed told Ahram Online. "There will be two scenarios following the vote; either parliament will vote in favour or it will vote against the programme."

He further explained that if a majority of MPs vote against the programme, they will be tasked with nominating a new prime minister, according to the Egyptian constitution.

Egypt, which has been without a parliament since 2012, will hold multi-stage parliamentary elections between October and December.

According to Article 146 of the 2014 constitution, while the president has the right to appoint a prime minister, parliament must approve any new cabinet through a vote of confidence in its proposed programme.

The article stipulates that "if his government does not win the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives within thirty days at the most, the president shall appoint a prime minister who is nominated by the party or the coalition that holds the majority or the highest number of seats in the House of Representatives."

El-Sayed further explained that If the government of the prime minister selected by the majority in parliament fails on a subsequent occasion to win the confidence of the majority of MPs then parliament shall be dissolved, according to the same article of the constitution. 

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13-09-2015 01:58am
musical chairs.
Musical chairs. Not the stability demanded by the situation.
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12-09-2015 05:26pm
who are theses ?
public rejected person become pm ha haaaaaa
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12-09-2015 05:22pm
dos.t work
sisi appointing all crucks and murderers same like phoroun
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12-09-2015 04:21pm
A no nonsense President with high expectations.
Exactly what Egypt needed, exactly what this culture of do nothing hope for the best, let's do it tomorrow complacent attitude needs. President Sisi not only cleaned up the brotherhoods terrorist nests, but is driving the economy and the culture to a new direction of progress. I hope the rest of the Egyptians have ambition to keep up with him.
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12-09-2015 10:08pm
Hey TUT I know this may be beyond a Muslim brotherhood sheep to comprehend but never the less I'll give it a shot.
Your President is not married to his cabinet... He has the burden of carrying feeble minded masses such as yourself on his shoulder. So if his team is not keeping up out they go. It's a foreign concept for you because most of your buddies keep their jobs no matter how incompetent they are.
12-09-2015 07:51pm
Wasn’t you the same fake guy who was cheering for this cabinet and fake-voting anyone criticizing their incompetence? Now Sisi is great because he fired them! You prove to be as fake as the Congress Republican puppets who got their aft kicked and the Iran deal won! You keep losing and your fake “support” for OUR country is showing! Why don’t you give yourself a 1000 more fake votes?

12-09-2015 03:55pm
Top Priorities
1. Reform Thug Policing and Kangaroo Courts 2. Build an economic plan for Egypt, including Sinai 3. Develop an inclusive Democratic plan 4. Reduce Army spending, no foreign intervention
Comment's Title
12-09-2015 06:51pm
Why the Cabinet failed & fired
@Allen, if the country is doing so great why the Puppet Cabinet was fired? What security? What defense? You sound like the people sipping tea on the titanic and wondering what’s happening around them! Maybe you lost your consulting puppet job with the fired cabinet, hence your increasing anger and fake-voting 
12-09-2015 06:45pm
Key; Smart Thinking
This is the smart Army/Police state thinking that talks Egypt a step lower in economic and democratic ranking every year. How many more millions of Egyptians sliding in poverty, how many more journalist you want to see jailed, how many more billions you want to see wasted on useless jets. It is easy to label everyone MB or Terrorist just to justify the utter failure the current Cabinet caused. How many more years and how many more Cabinets you are prepared to live in failure, poverty, and apparent illiteracy! l'chaim!!
12-09-2015 06:41pm
You can spot a Muslim brotherhood a mile away.
The same limited vocabulary, anti security, anti military. No terrorist organization or it's members wants a strong security... It impedes their goal to plant explosives to kill Egyptians. As long as there is a trace of the MB terrorists there will be strong expenditures for security no matter how often you TUT your horn on behalf of terrorism.
12-09-2015 05:11pm
MB = Terrorists
On the contrary, you've been spotted a mile away with your clownish comments. You criminal supporters speak the same tone when it comes to Egypt. The MB terrorists slash circus animals you regard highly of are either in jail getting fatter or criminal fugitives who ran away when the foreign funded MB's collapsed after the entire Egyptian population chased them out .

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