CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt named Hazem el-Beblawi on Sunday as the country’s new finance minister, replacing Samir Radwan who took up the position in January during President Hosni Mubarak’s final days in power.
Beblawi, 74, must grapple with a huge deficit in the recently drawn-up state budget for the 2011/12 financial year, which began on July 1.
The uprising which toppled Mubarak on February 11 depleted key sources of state revenue but raised popular expectations, prompting the government to increase spending.
Beblawi’s predecessor negotiated a $3 billion finance package with the International Monetary Fund, but it was vetoed by Egypt’s ruling military council, along with $2 billion in financing from the World Bank, after it was signed in June.
The Egyptian pound has lost only 2.5 percent of its value since January, even though the uprising hammered two of Egypt’s main sources of foreign currency — tourism and foreign investment.
- Served as an adviser to the Arab Monetary Fund in Abu Dhabi from 2001.
- Was executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), 1995-2000.
- Chairman and chief executive of the state Export Development Bank of Egypt from 1983 to 1995.
- Managed the economics department at the Industrial Bank of Kuwait, 1980-83.
- Taught economics at several Egyptian universities until 1980.
- Received a doctorate in economics from the University of Paris in 1964.
- Received an advanced degree in economics at the University of Grenoble, 1961.
- Graduated from Cairo University’s Faculty of Law in 1957.
Beblawi has indicated that he may favor a flexible exchange policy for the country’s currency.
In a 2008 article he wrote that the rising importance in the 1970s of worker remittances, especially from oil-rich countries of the Arabian Gulf, should have prompted the Egyptian government the devalue the pound.
“One would have expected a depreciation of the local currency. At the time, however, foreign exchange rate was sacrosanct, and the government persisted in maintaining the official exchange rate unchanged.”
In a May 2009 article, Beblawi indicated that he supported a free-market economy: “One thing seems indisputable in my view. A market economy can only function where the concept of the Rule of Law prevails.”
“Everyone, governed and governor, is subject to the rule of law, free from arbitrariness and whims. The law defines the scope and limits of activity and guarantees respect for commitments.”
Reporting by Patrick Werr