Sunday,19 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1245, (7 - 13 May 2015)
Sunday,19 August, 2018
Issue 1245, (7 - 13 May 2015)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

IMF upbeat on Egypt

Egypt’s economic policy reforms are starting to pay off and growth is strengthening though the country still faces a difficult situation, Masoud Ahmed, director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) told Reuters this week.

Ahmed described the discussions the fund had with the Egyptian delegation to the IMF’s semi-annual meetings in April as “good,” adding that an IMF technical assistance team would be sent to Cairo next month.

He praised the moves taken by the government to lower the budget deficit and spur growth, saying that they had started to bear fruit. “It is moving in the right direction,” he said, predicting growth of about four per cent this year, roughly twice the level seen a year ago.

Egypt requested an IMF loan soon after the 25 January Revolution, but this never materialised due to political turmoil and the resulting economic upheaval. While the current government has not requested a loan from the IMF, according to Ahmed, he said the Fund was willing to “to provide assistance if asked”.  

Emmar on local bourse

The board of directors of Emmar Misr, the Egyptian arm of Dubai’s largest real estate developer, has decided to offer 600 million shares on the Cairo stock exchange in a bid to raise LE2.8 billion. While the date of the listing has not been announced, the company said the shares would be priced at LE4.7 each. The last initial public offering on the Egyptian stock exchange was that of Edita for Food Industries last month, preceded by Arabian Cement in May 2014.

A new LNG terminal

In another move to secure energy supplies before the start of summer, Egypt has launched a tender to lease a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal for a five-year period. The terminal, which is a floating re-gasification and import terminal, converts LNG into gas and thus makes it possible for Egypt to import LNG. It would be Egypt’s second such terminal after it received an import terminal from Norway’s Hoegh LNG last month.

The ministry of petroleum has sent requests for offers to eight companies and is expected to receive replies within a week. Egypt has recently struck a number of LNG supply deals, including with Russia’s Gasprom and Algeria’s Sonatrach, with the LNG to be delivered this year and next.

First monorail

The country’s first ever monorail line will be built jointly by Canada’s Bombardier, Orascom Construction (OCI) and Arab Contractors, at a total cost of $1.5 billion, it was announced this week.

The railway will extend 52 km and is expected to be completed by mid-2018. It will be funded by a 14-year loan, according to the statement issued by the Ministry of Housing, and will  connect the Cairo metro system, which is being expanded, to areas west of the capital including 6 October City and Sheikh Zayed City.

The ministry statement noted that technical and financial offers for the rail project had been approved. OCI, owned by businessman Nassef Sawiris, has an extensive fertilisers and construction business. Bombardier makes rail vehicles, signaling and control equipment, and planes.

Tourism increases

The number of tourists visiting Egypt this year is expected to be 20 per cent higher than last, according to Minister of Tourism Khaled Rami. 2.15 million tourists visited the country in the first quarter of the year, up 6.9 per cent from last year’s figures, he said, and advance bookings for the year are at around 12 million, compared to 9.9 million last year and 14 .7 million in 2010, an exceptionally good year for tourism.

Tourism revenues peaked at $12.5 billion in 2010, but the following year’s political turmoil drove tourists away and slashed revenues to half this figure in 2013. Revenues last year were US$7.3 billion, Ramy told a news conference in Dubai. “We would like to reach $26 billion by 2020,” he said.

The number of forward bookings for this summer and winter are 15-20 per cent higher than a year ago, and visitor numbers in the first two weeks of April have risen 19 per cent year-on-year, he said.

Salem seeks amnesty

Hussein Salem, a prominent business tycoon from the Mubarak era, has asked Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb to accept half his fortune, valued at some LE8 billion, in return for an amnesty. Salem’s lawyer, Mahmoud Kebeish, told Reuters that according to article 18 of the relevant criminal law the prime minister can form a reconciliation committee to look into such cases if a defendant or his lawyer requests it.

Salem fled the country after the 25 January Revolution which toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, and he has since lived in Spain, having Spanish citizenship. Salem has been acquitted of the charges against him in a graft case along with Mubarak and others, and charges against him were also dropped in a prominent case that involved exporting gas to Israel at a loss to Egypt.

However, Salem still faces two retrials on charges of illegally acquiring land, squandering public funds and illegally selling electricity, in addition to a pending investigation on illicit gains. This is not the first time Salem has asked for an amnesty, since in 2012 he offered the then Muslim Brotherhood government half his fortune in exchange for dropping all the charges against him. This was followed by another request in early 2014.

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