Volunteer youth group to be created to monitor government projects

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ashraf El-Araby has suggested creating a working youth group composed of volunteers to monitor government-sponsored development projects, and hold them accountable to standards agreed upon by Egyptian society. This would be done in cooperation with members of the Central Committee for the Tamarod campaign.

According to a press release put forth by the Ministry of Planning on Monday, El-Araby suggested that Tamarod youth members host a series of meetings with all of the country’s governors and ministers in order to propose new ideas for projects. This comes in addition to monthly meetings held by Tamarod members to discuss previously agreed upon subjects.

He added that the government sought to focus on three major points over the coming months, the first of which would be to utilise and exploit the upwards of EGP22.3bn in investments already secured by the government during the country’s current transitional phase. This money would be collected and distributed according to pre-determined standards, he said.

El-Araby stated that Egypt’s economy was suffering from slow growth which reflected poorly on the number of job opportunities being made available to youth. He added that the government would seek to increase the number of projects being pursued over the coming months from 6 to 9, in particularly those having to do with sanitation, roads and bridges.

He stated however that there existed a number of bureaucratic impediments blocking the implementation of a number of these projects. He did however point out that 871 new railway crossings would be developed over the coming 6 months, in addition to 27 bridges located in areas with levels of traffic congestion. This is in addition to plans to develop 36 new industrial zones throughout the country, 15 of which would be located in Upper Egypt.

El-Araby further stated that his ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade, had allotted EGP500m for the purpose of rescuing idle factories. This is in addition to plans to construct one million new housing units for low income citizens, 50,000 of which are set to be constructed within the next 9 months at a cost of EGP5bn.

The third point would be to focus on ideas and suggestions put forth by ordinary citizens for new projects that should be implemented. “The future of development should be in the hands of the people and not the government, who instead should serve as a partner with citizens in working to implement projects,” he said.

The role of civil society organisations would be crucial in this last step, El-Araby said, adding that he had so far received a number of proposals from such groups, whose implementation would be coordinated with the country’s revolutionary youth. Further proposals would be encouraged in future phases.

Mohamed Nabawi, member of Tamarod’s Central Committee, stated that the Popular Supervisory Proposal put forth by the campaign, which would allow for youth oversight of government projects, had been drafted in conjunction with the Minister of Planning.

According to Nabawi, the Egyptian people had suffered previously from bitter experiences with the government and commitments made to implement specific development projects. Previous governments had sought to undertake projects without first conducting studies regarding their feasibility, which made them highly unpopular amongst average citizens.

Nabawi said that the gap which exists between those youth who helped launch the 25 January and 30 June revolutions, and those currently leading Egypt’s transition, was wide and served as a cause for concern. It would be on the people, he said, to work to minimise this gap, saying that the Tamarod campaign sought to play a large role in helping to monitor and oversee the implementation of government development projects, and the extent to which they corresponded with popular will.

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