More money, less problems for aid programs
CAIRO: Social Solidarity Minister Ali Moselhi pledged to slash red tape and ramp up cooperation with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help needy families, who he said were under increased pressure due to economic growth.
He also called for increased dialogue between the government, private sector and civil society and announced he would hold monthly meetings with unions and NGOs.
“We need to intensify these meetings so we can all get to know each other,” he told reporters at a forum on Sunday, which was attended by more than 120 NGOs and about 1,000 delegates.
Moselhi conceded that NGOs working in Egypt have to deal with both “a poverty of capacities” and the bureaucratic laws and regulations, which he said he would personally remove.
“Come to me, and it won’t take longer than five minutes to solve,” he said.
However, when an audience member at the press conference shouted out a request, Moselhi implored the audience member to send him a letter.
“Please mail me … don’t put a stamp. Everybody knows me.”
However, putting the words into action to develop the NGO sector may be a serious challenge, according to Scott Faiia, country director of Care Egypt.
“He’s got a big mountain to climb,” he told The Daily Star Egypt in an interview, noting that decentralizing the government bureaucracy and handing out more responsibilities to local regulators will be an important step.
“You think that someone sitting in an office in Cairo is going to understand the local situation in all these different places?” said Faiia, referring to aid programs in Upper Egypt, the Nile delta and Sinai.
Currently, regulations and requirements make working with the government an “onerous” task, said Faiia.
“Now they have to step up and make it a reality,” he said, noting that the working environment continues to improve for NGOs and the atmosphere of reform is “positive.”
Philip MacKinnon, the Canadian ambassador to Egypt, told The Daily Star Egypt that because of “a long tradition” of centralization, Egypt has had difficulty adapting its policies.
Canada gave Egypt about LE 100 million in foreign aid last year, according to Peter Paproski, a CIDA representative.
Paproski said that Canada was working to build up the NGO sector and to help improve communication and cooperation.
“We can share a lot of experience around the issue of partnership,” he said in an interview, and added that Canada can also learn a lot from increased cooperation with Egypt.
“People in Egypt feel that their voices aren’t being heard,” he said.
“Change only happens in degrees.”