Sunday,23 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1277, (7 - 13 January 2016)
Sunday,23 September, 2018
Issue 1277, (7 - 13 January 2016)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

Foreign reserves inch up

EGYPT’s net international reserves increased slightly to reach $16.445 billion at the end of December, compared to $16.422 billion the previous month, the Central Bank of Egypt announced on Monday.

Egypt has seen dwindling foreign reserves since the 25 January Revolution in 2011, as political instability has negatively impacted the country’s main foreign-currency earners of tourism and foreign direct investment. Egypt’s foreign reserves stood at about $36 billion before the revolution.

Better GDP growth

THE IMPLEMENTATION of a number of financial and structural reforms in financial year 2014-2015 has impacted positively on GDP growth, said the Ministry of Finance in a statement this week. The ministry’s monthly report issued this week showed that GDP achieved a growth rate of 4.2 per cent in 2014-2015, up from 2.2 per cent in 2013-2014.

The ministry stressed that it will continue with economic reforms to boost GDP growth, increase the economy’s competitiveness, and achieve economic and financial stability. The monthly report further showed that the unemployment rate fell in the period from July to September 2015, to reach 12.8 per cent.

Debt to oil firms increases

THE GOVERNMENT’s arrears to foreign oil companies increased to $3 billion at the end of December from $2.7 billion at the end of October, Petroleum Minister Tarek Al-Molla told Reuters this week. The ministry had earlier said in September that the government would reduce the arrears owed to oil companies to $2.5 billion by the end of 2015 and pay them off completely by the end of 2016.

The delay in paying back debts to foreign oil companies has scared off investment in the sector. In December, British Gas postponed one of its projects in Egypt for the second time, rescheduling work on the Borollos Fields to mid-2016 rather than the beginning of 2016 because of the late repayment of government debts.

A drive to increase the price paid for domestic production and pay back arrears had encouraged new investment and new contracts in the oil and gas sector during the Egypt Economic Development Conference held in March last year.

Once an energy exporter, Egypt has become a net importer of energy because of dwindling local oil production and higher consumption following the 25 January Revolution in 2011. The recent discovery of the massive offshore Zohr Field is expected to boost local production of gas and plug Egypt’s acute energy shortage, saving it billions of dollars in imports.

New capital on track

A MEMORANDUM of understanding to establish a consortium of Egyptian-Chinese companies to carry out construction work in the country’s new capital was signed this week. The consortium will include Arab Contractors, the Egyptian construction and contracting company; Petrojet, the Egyptian petroleum sector company which will provide engineering, procurement and construction services; and the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC).

The minister of housing also signed seven memoranda of understanding with CSCEC relating to the execution of projects in the new capital and the provision of loans for drainage projects in Upper Egypt. The minister said that, according to the memoranda, the new consortium will construct the cabinet building and 12 ministries, a grand conference hall, exhibition grounds and 15,000 units for middle- and low-income housing in the new capital.

He said that this will be part of plans for the first phase of the new capital, to be built on an areas of 10,500 feddans. The memoranda of understanding will be translated into contracts during the upcoming visit of the Chinese president to Egypt, scheduled for mid-January.

Saudi support for Sinai and oil

SAUDI Arabia will provide Egypt with more than $2.5 billion in loans, of which $1.5 billion will go to the development of the Sinai Peninsula and $1.2 billion to fund Egypt’s oil purchases, Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr told the Bloomberg news agency on Monday. The oil-rich kingdom will further provide Egypt with a $500 grant to buy Saudi exports and products, Nasr added.

In December, Saudi Arabia agreed to invest 30 billion riyals ($8 billion) in Egypt through its public and sovereign funds and to provide the country with its petroleum needs in the coming five years. This came during the second meeting of the Egyptian-Saudi Coordination Council held in Cairo last month.

A third council meeting was held in Riyadh on Tuesday during a fresh round of business talks. The meeting was chaired by Nasr, who said that a third meeting is set to take place in Cairo on 24 January.

Saudi Arabia has given billions of dollars of aid to Egypt since the 30 June Revolution that ousted former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Together with the UAE and Kuwait, Saudi Arabia has extended $23 billion in aid and investments to Egypt since June 2013.

ISAQ Aviation in Egypt

ISAQ Aviation, a training and education company for pilots and aviation staff, launched its regional headquarters in Egypt this week. “We are very proud to launch ISAQ’s first representation in Egypt, which affirms Egypt’s leading role in the region. Egypt is renowned for its superior human resources, and Egyptian pilots are ranked second worldwide in terms of efficiency,” said Ali Bayoumy, CEO of ISAQ Aviation, at a press conference.

The aviation sector contributes over $2 billion to the economy and represents around 1.2 per cent of Egypt’s GDP, in addition to providing 197,000 direct and indirect jobs, said Hani Beshay, a technical advisor to ISAQ Aviation. “We have identified the need to develop Egyptian pilots to cater to the government’s expansion plans for Egyptian airports to accommodate 75.5 million travellers in 2020 versus 54 million travellers currently,” Beshay added.

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