Egypt’s central bank says mounting foreign debt at $82.9bn
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s foreign debts reached around $82.9 billion, for the period ending December 2017, rising by 4.9 percent compared to six months earlier, the Central Bank of Egypt revealed in a report on Wednesday.
The CBE, however, maintains that the foreign debt to gross domestic product ratio is “still within the safe limits according to international standards”, standing at 36.1 percent. Egypt’s foreign debts reached $67.3 billion in December 2016.
The report comes as the government presses ahead with an economic reform program that has included slashing fuel and electricity subsidies, imposing a value-added tax and a currency floatation. The measures were taken in order to qualify for a three-year $12 billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund, which it secured in 2016. A new round of fuel subsidy cuts is expected soon.
Egypt’s economy is still recovering from a costly 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak and years of political instability that ensued. The tough austerity measures, aimed at rebuilding the economy after the unrest, have hit poor and middle class Egyptians especially hard. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the 2013 military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president, has urged Egyptians to be patient as the reforms take effect.
Earlier in May, the IMF said in its latest review that “Egypt has begun to reap the benefits of its ambitious and politically difficult economic reform program.” It highlighted Egypt’s growth rate of 5.2 percent in the first half of fiscal year 2017/2018, up from 4.2 percent for the same period in 2016/2017. The IMF also pointed to the inflation rate dropping to 13.1 percent in April after it had peaked during the summer of 2017, hovering at around 30 percent.
Egypt’s foreign reserves have continued to increase since it secured the IMF loan in 2016. They currently exceed $44 billion by April’s end, their level highest level since December 2010.