Egypt’s international cooperation ministry has dismissed reports that its minister said that certain state-run utility companies, specifically water and electricity companies, will be privatised.
The ministry’s statement, issued earlier this week, aimed to clarify comments made by minister Sahar Nasr in an article published in the Wall Street Journal that were interpreted as meaning that water and electricity companies will be publically traded.
In the 23 November article titled 'Egypt is charting a new economic course,' Nasr aimed to “address the international community to explain the government’s economic and social programme approved by the parliament”, according to the ministry.
“Through public offerings, Egypt will be partially divesting from several state-owned enterprises and banks. For the first time, this will cover public utility companies, which have historically been excluded from divesture as a strategic sector,” the article by Nasr read.
The ministry said that Nasr did not mention water and electricity companies in her article.
A number of megaprojects, mainly in infrastructure, are being carried out in Egypt as public-private partnerships. The objective is not only to keep the private sector as a main stakeholder, but also to ensure a crowding-in rather than a crowding-out effect.
The ministry said that the article aimed to explain that the government “encourages private sector participation in the service sector, including the financial sector and state-owned enterprises, and that the government is interested in implementing development projects through public-private partnerships.”
Nasr’s article, which went viral over the week, led to several responses by the cabinet and parliamentary members.
Egypt’s parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Al said during a heated debate at the House on Nasr’s article that there will be “no selling of banks or utility companies.”
He added that the opinion article might have been mistranslated or that any “selling” may be of shares owned by the state in such companies.