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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Politics continue to feature prominently on the airwaves

Not sure if this is the EGYPTIAN SEQUEL TO GROUNDHOG DAY or to the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: Islamist politics and the future of state-owned companies dominated the airwaves last night. The talking heads zeroed in on separately televised interviews of former top auditor Hisham Genena and the Islamist former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh. Meanwhile, the Minister of Public Enterprise assures us that only two of the nation’s eight public-sector holding companies are really loss-making (if you squint and turn your head the right way while reading their financial statements after consuming multiple ethanolic beverages).

Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi slammed Genena’s interview with El Watan TV in which he claimed to be in possession of incriminating evidence against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) — which took charge of the country after the 2011 uprising — that would secure former military chief of staff Sami Anan’s release from detention. Lamees said Genena’s appearance on a channel known for its affiliation with the Ikhwan was “unacceptable” and dismissed his alleged documents as fabrication that is more likely to harm Anan’s case.

Lamees was far less condemning of Aboul Fotouh’s interview with statelet media outlet Aljazeera, describing it as a purely political act that is to be expected from an opponent of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. She pointed out that Aboul Fotouh’s statements mean to drive a wedge between El Sisi and the Armed Forces (watch, runtime 21:10).

Al Hayah Al Youm’s Tamer Amin railed against Aboul Fotouh for the interview, which he said serves only to tarnish Egypt’s image abroad (watch, runtime 6:59).

Over on Kol Youm, Amr Adib mimicked his better half’s disapproval of Genena’s claims, questioning the logic behind waiting this long to make the threat (watch, runtime 5:04).

Adib then had a chat with Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid about US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit, which Abu Zeid said reflects the importance Washington places on dialogue with Cairo (watch, runtime 7:26).

Back on Hona Al Asema, Abu Zeid also told Lamees not to read too much into Tillerson’s statements about holding fair and transparent elections, playing them down as a routine demand the US would make of any country (watch, runtime 4:10).

Lamees took note of Daesh’s video warning of attacks ahead of the March election (full story in Speed Round), which MP and journalist Abdel Rehim Ali interpreted as the group’s swansong and proof that the military’s operations in Sinai are effective (watch, runtime 8:55). Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies researcher Ahmed Kamel El Beheiry, however, said that the group meant to show strength with the statement (watch, runtime 4:41).

Public enterprise boss lays out latest plan for state-owned companies: Lamees host also sat down for an extended talk with Public Enterprises Minister Khaled Badawy on the performance of state-owned companies, which Badawy expects to continue improving alongside the overall economy. Badawy told Lamees that his ministry is looking at a shakeup in companies’ management to help boost performance. He also said that only two of the country’s eight holding companies are making losses, whereas the rest are turning profits (watch, runtime 3:08).

Textiles in particular are continuing EGP 2.7 bn in (annual?) losses, he said, adding that the 35 textile companies are drowning in a collective EGP 7-10 bn in debts owed to the National Investment Bank. The government is looking into repaying these debts by selling off some of the companies’ assets, which he said were last valued at EGP 90-100 bn prior to the EGP float (watch, runtime 1:51).

Badawy remained tight-lipped on the state’s IPO program, saying only that there are 10 companies in the IPO pipeline (watch, runtime 3:45).

The minister also touched on the government’s strategy for the tourism sector, which rests heavily on renovating and polishing up some of the country’s hotels, listing Aswan’s Old Cataract, Luxor’s Winter Palace, and Cairo’s Mena House as some of the best-poised for high ratings (watch, runtime 15:29).

Over on Masaa DMC, Oil Ministry spokesman Hamdi Abdel Aziz gave host Eman El Hosary the low-down on the new 95-octane formula announced at the EGYPS conference and how it differs from the product currently on the market (we have details in Speed Round, below) (watch, runtime 3:51).

Back on Kol Youm, Adib hailed the outcomes of the EGYPS conference, including BP’s announcement that it will begin production at the Atoll gas field ahead of schedule (Also covered in Speed Round). He piled on the praise for the government’s efforts to slash red tape and facilitate procedures for IOCs to operate in Egypt (watch, runtime 37:27).

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