Egypt approves new minister after wheat scandal
Sheikh held several high profile military positions until he presided over two commissions procuring supplies and logistics for the army
The Egyptian parliament voted on Tuesday to approve the appointment of a former military officer as supply minister, after his predecessor quit amid a corruption scandal over wheat imports.
Lawmakers backed by a two-thirds majority President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s nomination of Major General Mohammed Ali al-Sheikh, said the parliament’s official website.
Sheikh, 64, held several high profile military positions until he presided over two commissions procuring supplies and logistics for the armed forces.
His predecessor Khaled Hanafy announced his resignation on August 25 after reportedly being found politically responsible for wheat deals that cost Egypt tens of millions of dollars.
Suppliers were found to have sold cheaper imported wheat as locally produced in order to obtain state subsidies and inflate the annual harvest, costing the government about $55 million.
Largest wheat importer
The probe comes as the government seeks to cut public spending in Egypt, the world’s largest importer of wheat.
More than five years after its 2011 uprising -- partly fueled by economic disparities -- that swept away veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak, the country is still reeling from the fallout.
In mid-August, Egypt signed with the International Monetary Fund a preliminary agreement for a $12 billion loan spread over three years, which still needs approval from the IMF's board.
Egypt hopes the $12-billion financing deal with the IMF will usher in an economic turnaround.
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