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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Last night’s talk shows: unemployment rates, public enterprises, rail upgrades, and sugar, of all things

It was another night of miscellany on the airwaves, featuring lots of self-love from the government on unemployment rates and the ‘profits’ of state-owned enterprises as well as more on rail upgrades — and sugar, of all things.

Transport Minister Hisham Arafat is still in the hot seat, and the need to attract fresh private-sector investment for the nation’s railways is a key talking point. He told Al Nahar Al Youm’s Khaled Salah that legislation is needed to allow private sector participation in upgrades to railway infrastructure, which is necessary because the state doesn’t have the resources to do it all on its own (watch, runtime 16:22).

On Masaa DMC, Osama Kamal spoke to Manpower Minister Mohamed Saafan about the unemployment rate easing to 11.98% in 2Q2017 from 12% in the first quarter, marking the first time since 2011 unemployment has fallen below 12%. Saafan unsurprisingly credits national projects and the ability to ministries to work together for the improvement in the unemployment gauge — and promises that soon-to-launch training programs will somehow create more jobs in 2017 (watch, runtime 6:46).

The magical profitability of SOCs: Kamal also interviewed Public Enterprises Minister Ashraf El Sharkawy, who said that ministry-affiliated companies reeled in about EGP 6 bn in profits in FY2016-17, compared to losses of EGP 323 mn the year before (watch, runtime 6:36). No less than 73 loss-making companies turned profitable over the last fiscal year, the minister said, promising the inexorable march of progress would continue under a new plan to restructure the sector (watch, runtime 4:47).

Gov’t importing sugar again: Over on TEN TV, Amr Abdel Hamid and Supply Ministry Spokesperson Mamdouh Ramadan chatted about a newly-contracted 850k tonnes of imported sugar meant to prevent any potential market shortages. Ramadan said that Egypt produces 2.2 mn tonnes of sugar a year and consumes about 3.2 mn tonnes (watch, runtime 3:38).

And on Yahduth fi Misr, Sherif Amer was reduced to speaking with a housing ministry spokesperson about the great welcome accorded to Sakan Masr — marking the 9,123,987th time this year that one talk show or another has aired a soft feature on a state-backed affordable-housing project. Talking point received, folks.

Could someone — anyone — from the private sector please come back from Sahel and book a talk show appearance? Please?

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