Calling for a new order in Egypt's style of rule, President Hosni Mubarak today swore in his Cabinet with 12 new ministers and ordered it to show "no privileges, no favoritism and no exceptions" in dealing with the people.
After the ceremony at his temporary offices in Urubu Palace, Mubarak met with the 34 ministers of his new government, whose main immediate task will be drawing up reforms to make the economy more productive.
Prime Minister Fuad Mohieddin said the new government would immediately seek to revamp the "open-door" economic policy of slain president Anwar Sadat to make it more productive and to orient it toward serving the poor.
He said the government was not against the open-door policy "per se" and welcomed foreign capital "from anywhere." But, he added, "our priorities are to production needs."
In keeping with the heavy emphasis on a new economic start for the country, Mubarak has changed the entire team of those responsible for the economy while keeping the three main pillars of Sadat's old government in other key sectors.
These include Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali, Defense Minister Mohammed Abdul Halim Abu Ghazala and the former interior minister, Nabawi Ismail, who has been made deputy prime minister for services and local government. Today Mubarak praised Ismail for his role in maintaining Egypt's stability and security in the wake of Sadat's assassination in October.
As expected, the former economic "czar" and deputy prime minister, Abdul Razzak Abdel Meguid, was dismissed.
Abdel Meguid had been heavily criticized in the local press for his handling of the economy and recently came under a cloud of suspicion after a member of parliament convicted for corruption alleged that the minister had shown him favor.
The main criticism of Sadat's open-door policy, which aimed at encouraging Western investment to boost Egypt's economy, is that it has resulted in the massive import of luxury goods while failing to revive the state-dominated industrial sector.
Mubarak already has initiated a major public debate about what ought to be done to correct the problems as well as reduce soaring government subsidies used to keep down the prices of staples. Subsidies this year may reach $3 billion.