Egypt is planning to relocate some 51,000 government employees to the New Administrative Capital (NAC) starting next year, according to draft plans seen by Al-Masy Al-Youm.
State employees from 31 departments, primarily from the Ministry of Finance, will be relocated in two stages, the details of which are to be completed in the next few months. Personnel will be relocated according to their score on a capabilities test; those with highly desired skills, such as possessing a good knowledge of English, are more likely to secure a place in the new city, designed to ease the pressure on Cairo.
The relocation will also include over 3,000 employees from the ministries of foreign affairs, social services and electricity respectively, and more than 2,000 personnel from both the Ministry of Health and the justice department.
Construction of the NAC is the top priority within the government’s 2030 sustainable development plan, with all building ambitiously scheduled to be completed this year. Set on the eastern outskirts of Cairo between the Nile and the Suez Canal, it is projected to house some 6.5 million people.
Yet doubts remain as to how the multi-billion dollar project will be completed, after talks between Egypt and Chinese builder China Fortune Land Development Co. (CFLD), who was charged with completing the business district of the city, fell through last month over disagreements on how to share revenue from the project.
Two years of tough negotiations reportedly came to an end when CFLD refused to grant Egypt the 40 per cent of the profits they demanded, offering only 33 per cent.
“We found that to be unacceptable especially they were going to have a premium plot,” Khaled Elhusseiny, a spokesman for the Egyptian company overseeing the new capital project said.
Talks between Cairo and the Dubai-based Emaar Properties PJSC to develop another plot in the NAC are also reported to have stalled. The two parties previously struggled to arrive at a deal in 2015 when Emaar was slated to lead the mega project, but was subsequently ousted when Chinese companies expressed interest in funding.
The ongoing negotiations reflect Egypt’s struggle to involve top-tier foreign companies in the development plan. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s extravagant goal of transforming a 700 square-kilometre swath of desert into a business and residential hub has been slow to attract funding, with investors wary of committing to the project amid ongoing economic uncertainty.
Despite floating its currency and adopting stringent austerity measures as part of a conditional loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), foreign direct investment in Egypt fell by $200 million to $7.7 billion in the 2017-2018 fiscal year according to the central bank, with most of the funding still concentrated in the gas and oil sectors.
Although work on the NAC is still continuing, it has been undertaken by the housing ministry, the military and Egyptian contractors, who have bought smaller parcels of land.