Sisi discusses Egypt's economic reform programme with World Bank president

Ahram Online , Sunday 2 Apr 2017

Abdel Fattah El-Sisi
2015 file photo of Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi with head of World Bank Jim Kim in New York (Photo: Egyptian presidency )

Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi discussed with World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim Egypt's ongoing economic reforms as well as cooperation in large development projects in a number of sectors in the country, including energy and transportation.

Sisi met with the World Bank president during a five-day visit to Washington, where he is scheduled to meet with US President Donald Trump.

"Mr Jim Yong Kim stressed the World Bank's keenness to continue in cooperative programmes with Egypt and develop consultation and coordination frameworks between the two sides," an Egyptian presidency statement read.

"He hailed the serious reform steps Egypt has taken to address the structural imbalances suffered by the Egyptian economy, taking the necessary measures to attract more foreign investment."

Sisi said that Cairo will continue implementing the economic reform programme and achieve target growth rates, while expanding the social protection networks and programmes and take further legislative and administrative reforms aimed at improving the business and investment environment.

Later on Sunday, the Egyptian president discussed developing cooperation with the CEOs of General Electric and Lockheed Martin in two consecutive meetings.

"[General Electric] looks forward to increasing its activity in Egypt in light of the promising opportunities," the company's CEO was quoted as saying in a separate Egyptian presidency statement.

In his meeting with the CEO of Lockheed Martin, a major US company specialised in global aerospace, defense and security, Sisi praised the company's contribution in meeting Egypt's needs for warplanes, spare parts and equipment, as well as the cooperation between the two sides in the fields of technical training.

The CEO of Lockheed Martin expressed her keenness for further cooperation with Egypt.

World Bank loan 

Sisi's visit will focus on discussing Egypt's economy with US officials, foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said on Sunday.

Last week, the World Bank delivered to Egypt the second $1 billion tranche of a $3 billion loan to support the government’s economic reform programme, with the funds intended for fiscal consolidation, ensuring energy supply and enhancing competitiveness in the private sector.

A high-level mission from the bank visited Egypt in mid-March to negotiate with the Egyptian government the third tranche of the loan.

In 2014, Egypt launched a plan to introduce fiscal reforms, including fuel subsidy cuts that raised prices by up to 78 percent, and levying new taxes to ease the growing budget deficit – currently estimated at 12.2 percent of GDP – as well as floating of the Egyptian pound in November.

Egypt received the first tranche of the bank's loan in September.

The World Bank finances several projects in Egypt, including projects related to energy, transport, water and wastewater, agriculture and irrigation, population and health, and social safety nets. It also supports employment projects and finances small and medium-sized enterprises.

The current portfolio of the World Bank in Egypt includes 26 projects with a total commitment of $5.92 billion, according to the organisation's data.

In November 2016, Egypt received an initial tranche of $2.75 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following the board’s approval of a $12 billion loan.

In statements to MENA on Sunday, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said it expects that the country's foreign reserves will rise to more than $28.5 billion at the end of March, from $26,541 million by the end of February, the highest benchmark since March 2011.

Egypt's economy has been struggling since 2011 due to a sharp drop in tourism and foreign investment, two main sources of hard currency for the import-dependent country.

Foreign reserves registered $36 billion before the popular uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak in January 2011 led to a period of political turbulence, which undermined Egypt's vital sources of foreign currency such as tourism and foreign investment.

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