Investment certificates issued earlier this month to finance the digging of a new Suez Canal have attracted LE27 billion ($3.8 billion) of fresh cash to the Egyptian banking system, announced the central bank's governor, Hisham Ramez, on Sunday.
The government has gathered a total of LE64 billion from the certificates, surpassing the LE60 billion initially targeted to finance the national project, Ramez told reporters at a press conference.
The certificates were sold exclusively to Egyptians in the local currency at values of LE10, LE100, LE1000 at an interest rate of 12 percent, the highest offered on any such instruments by Egyptian banks.
They were met with huge popular demand, as 82 percent of buyers were individuals, with LE15.7 million worth of the lower value LE10 and LE100 certificates sold.
Only 10 percent of Egyptians have bank accounts, according to the World Bank.
A total of $1.5 billion were converted to Egyptian pounds inside the banking system to buy the certificates, and Egyptian expatriates bought LE350 million worth of certificates.
The extra LE4 billion collected will be used to fund the project, confirmed Ramez.
The extension of the canal, which links the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea, is expected to increase annual revenues from the waterway to Egypt's coffers over the next nine years to $12-13 billion, according to Finance Minister Hany Kadry Demian.