CAIRO -- The selection of Hazem el-Beblawy as Egypt's interim prime minister on Tuesday appeared to send a signal that the military-led transitional government intends to move forward with economic reforms and restructuring including reductions in the country's vast public subsidies.
Mr. Beblawy earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Paris, worked as an economic consultant and a United Nations official, and became a prominent critic of President Hosni Mubarak's economic policies for failing to either open up free markets or serve the poor.
He embraced the revolt against Mr. Mubarak, served as finance minister of an earlier transitional government and became a prominent member of the liberal Social Democratic Party. And he has been a forthright critic of Egypt's bloated energy subsidy programs, which make up more than a quarter of the national budget.
"We must create a clear understanding for the public that the level of subsidies in Egypt is unsustainable, and the situation is critical," Mr. Beblawy said in an interview with Daily News Egypt, an English-language newspaper here, shortly before the ouster last week of Mohamed Morsi, who replaced Mr. Mubarak as Egypt's first freely elected president.
Mr. Beblawy argued that Mr. Morsi had failed to communicate to the public the gravity of the economic crisis hobbling Egypt.
"The canceling of subsidies requires sacrifices from the public and therefore necessitates their acceptance," he said. "It is crucial that they understand the scope of the danger that the current size of subsidies impose on Egypt's economy, and they must also feel that its rationing is done in a way that guarantees social justice."
The speed and scope of changes in Egypt's taxes and subsidies are issues that have so far held up a package of reforms and a loan from the International Monetary Fund that is considered essential to keep Egypt's economy afloat.
Officials of the Muslim Brotherhood called Mr. Beblawy a face of the old elite and said his appointment showed that the military ouster of Mr. Morsi was in fact a counterrevolution. "It proves what this is all about," said Gehad el-Haddad, a Brotherhood spokesman. "An anti-revolution enshrined by a military coup."
The recently appointed interim president, Adli Mansour, a senior judge, did not speak publicly about the appointment.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.