Callers rush the govt complaints hotline on day one
Read Isabel Esterman's "Investor-govt. disputes: Is it worth settling for?"
 

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb launched the “government complaints system” on Monday, which includes a center to receive citizens’ complaints via a telephone hotline, reported the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA).

A part of the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC), the center will receive complaints on the hotline number 16528.

The Cabinet said that phase one of the initiative would focus on bread and health issues in a statement posted to its official Facebook page.

A Mada Masr reporter called the hotline and was greeted with a recorded message welcoming callers, stating that calls may be recorded for quality and that complaints can be tracked on the website www.shakwa.eg.

To file a complaint, the caller must have his or her national ID handy, and is instructed to go straight to the core of the complaint as there is limited time for each phone call so that the government can cater to all its citizens.

There appeared to be a rush on the hotline on Monday afternoon. After being told, “Your call is important to us. All representatives are busy now, please wait,” Mada was put on hold, and listened to perky hold music for about five minutes until an operator took the call.

The operator was amiable, and though her superior told her that she could not take questions from the media, she was ready to receive complaints.

At the opening of the center, Mehleb said the complaints system aspires to “be more in touch with citizen’s problems and to make each citizen feel that [he or she is] a priority.”

The center would also deal with corruption cases, not only citizen’s complaints, Mehleb added.

It is important for “citizens to participate in the decision making process … and the government is keen on building credibility by engaging public opinion and studying the different problems citizens face and finding appropriate solutions,” said the complaint center’s director, Sherif Badr.

Mehleb also called on the IDSC to put together a comprehensive file on the National Council for the Revolution’s Injured that includes the monthly compensation received and the number of those in the system in order to “determine the size of the problem,” MENA reported.

“The challenges facing the government now are significant, and citizens must feel like there is communication with the government to ease their burdens,” the newly appointed prime minister added. 

Speaking about Egypt’s frequent power cuts and energy problems, which are predicted to be among the most popular complaints the center receives, Mehleb said that the government is studying ways of providing advance notice ahead of power outages.

Local media reported this past week that the Ministry of Electricity would begin a series of power rationing campaigns in May to reduce consumption by 20 percent.

Mehleb said that it is important to be honest with citizens about Egypt’s power cuts, which he said were due to a shortage of mazut oil in power plants. 

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