Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
2 - 8 December 1999
Issue No. 458
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

Front Page

Bugging the banks

ONLY DAYS after announcing its ban on banks exporting excess foreign currency, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has retracted the decision.

The CBE's initial decision was, officials said, intended to guarantee that local banks would retain sufficient reserves to meet what are expected to be heavy withdrawals in the run-up to the new millennium, as customers worried about the possible effects of any computer failure.

Local banks, which habitually invest excess foreign currency deposits overseas, objected to the CBE ban, insisting they were well-prepared for the millennium bug.

Damming the flow

THE WORLD Commission on Dams (WCD) will hold its third regional consultation in Cairo next week. The two-day conference, which begins on 8 December, will review developments across Africa and the Middle East.

The South Africa-based organisation, which seeks to conduct a global review of the development effectiveness of large dams and to formulate a framework for the sustainable management of water and energy resources, was established in 1997.

Labour pains

EGYPT's labour market was the focus of attention at a conference organised by the Economic Policy Initiative Consortium (EPIC) and Cairo University's Centre for the Study of Developing Countries.

"Labour Market and Human Resource Development in Egypt" covered the past decade, and detailed the transformations undergone by the job market, including the informal sector, women, youth and child labour. The role of small and micro-credit enterprises in job creation were also discussed.

Participants stressed the importance of studying changes in the labour market so as to make optimal use of the resources earmarked for development.

"The cabinet has issued a number of decrees," Minister of Youth Alieddin Hilal told the conference, "aimed at creating around 150,000 jobs in government departments. But his does not mean returning, as some newspapers have said, to the creation of non-existent jobs... and they will not add to the burden on the general budget."

New chairman

BANQUE Misr, Egypt's second largest public sector bank, has a new chairman. The ministry of economy appointed Bahaaeddin Helmi to succeed Essam El-Ahmadi as chairman.

The appointment came after the Central Bank of Egypt approved Helmi's nomination. Helmi, who was Ahmadi's deputy, is also chairman of Misr Romania Bank, in which Banque Misr has a 33 per cent stake.

No decision has been reached on whether Helmi will continue at Misr Romania. He first joined Banque Misr 14 years ago, and during his time at the bank played a leading role in developing a huge computer centre and in enhancing its retail banking services.

Cementing deals

THE BRITISH cement company Blue Circle Industries signed a contract for the purchase of Alexandria Portland Cement (APC) this week. The British company which ranks second among world cement producers paid LE640 million for APC. The finalisation of the deal reflected positively on the trading of the company's shares on the Egyptian stock market, which rose by LE1.24 to reach LE73.12 per share.

This is the third major privatisation deal to be concluded in the cement sector this year. The first was the sale of Beni Suef Cement to the French company Lafarge, followed by Assiut Cement which was bought by Cemex of Mexico.

Toshka moves

"THE PROJECT moves forward", was the message underlined by Mahmoud Abu Zeid, minister of water resources from the site of the Toshka project in Upper Egypt. In statements made to the press last week, Abu Zeid highlighted that there are currently over 7,000 engineers, technicians and workers working non-stop at the megaproject. Due to their efforts, the ministry is ahead of its schedule by 15 to 20 per cent, according to Abu Zeid. The ferry transporting the second giant bulldozer to Toshka's digging site was also floated into the waters of Lake Nasser last week.

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