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Egypt's external debt falling, economy still safe: Finance minister

Momtaz El-Saeed says new external debt figures give the lie to predictions of economic failure and that the country is still well-placed to meet its financial obligations

Ahram Online, Wednesday 18 Apr 2012
El-Saeed
Egypt's finance minister, Momtaz El-Saeed (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt’s Finance Minister Momtaz El-Saeed announced on Wednesday that the country's external debt shrank by 1.5 per cent to represent 13.3 per cent of GDP in December 2011, down to $33.7 billion against $35 billion in the same month the year before.
 
El-Saeed said the figures gave the lie to media reports about Egypt's deep financial difficulties, adding that the country's rate of external debt is matched by only a few other countries.
 
The statement on Wednesday cited El-Saeed as saying that Egypt’s economy is still strong enough to meet its external financial obligations on time as well as its interest payments.
 
He added that Egypt’s governmental external debt, which is a part of total external debt, was around $25.7 billion by the end of December 2011, representing 10.1 per cent of total GDP -- a proportion El-Saeed said was still "on the safe side".
 
When it came to the erosion of Egypt's foreign reserves, El-Saeed stated that the rate of falling has slowed, and that reserves fell $660.6 million in March, compared to an average $1 billion per month in the preceding period.
 
The Egyptian minister said that the country's economic crisis is caused by politics and the current security situation. But he denied claims that last year's uprising destroyed Egypt's economy and negatively hit the production and the growth, adding that the country has many different sources for raising revenues such as taxes, tourism and receipts from the Suez Canal.
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