Egypt has not stopped its privatisation programme and more companies will be sold to the private sector along strict professional guidelines, the minister of planning was reported as saying on Saturday.
Fayza Aboul-Naga told reporters after a cabinet meeting that Egypt’s prime minister has given instructions to his ministers to examine the status of 100 public sector companies that are facing financial and operational difficulties.
The long-serving planning minister also indicated that some public companies could return to profitability by restructuring and injecting funds. Such companies will not be sold to the private sector, Aboul Naga added.
She said that the textiles sector, which employs more than 70,000 workers, requires restructuring and internal governance in order to remain productive while meeting the demands of its employees.
Egyptian courts in 2011 ruled to return four privatised companies to state ownership, prompting government appeals against the decisions.
Aboul Naga says that the companies’ owners have turned to international arbitration to contest the court rulings. She added that current prime minister, Kamal El-Ganzouri, has said that Egypt's record with arbitration has not been very positive and he prefers out-of-court settlements with company owners.
When it comes to public sector workers’ demands for better pay and contracts, Aboul-Naga said that while the government recognises these demands as legitimate, "the state is in no shape to respond to the demands of the workers’ protests."