Egypt's Ministry of Public Enterprises issued a statement on Monday stressing its support for the country's public steel companies, explaining that the ministry is currently undertaking comprehensive renovation and the doubling of the production capacity by five to 10-fold for two main production lines at the ministry's Delta for Steel Capital company.
The ministry also explained that comments made by Public Enterprise Minister Hisham Tawfiq in the media last week, where he said that the "steel industry is not strategic," were taken out of context.
"The minister said that the publically owned steel companies are currently producing less than 5 percent of the total steel produced in Egypt, compared to 100 percent in 1970s; that was the era when the iron and steel industry was thought of as a strategic public sector industry," the ministry statement explained.
The ministry said that it is following up on the execution of the proposals made by international consultants to operate steel furnaces at the giant iron and steel complex in Helwan in order to modernise the complex, which was established in 1954.
The head of the general syndicate for engineering, mining and electrical industries had said in media statements that the union rejects any proposals to privatise publically owned steel firms, stressing the historic role of these companies in building a strong economy since their foundation.
In media statements to Masrawy news website last week, Minister Tawfiq had said that the iron and steel industry is no longer a "strategic industry," explaining that "what was once called 'strategic' in the past might not be considered strategic today."
Moreover, in the same statements, the minister stressed that the ministry has no intention of shutting down any of its companies that are losing money, and that the decision to shut down any company depends on the results of extensive viability studies.