Egypt plans lowering debt to GDP ratio to below 85% over three years: Finance minister

Doaa A.Moneim , Sunday 3 Apr 2022

Egypt is planning to lower its debt to GDP ratio to below 90 percent by the end of the current FY2021/22 — which will conclude at the end of June 2022 — and under 85 percent over the coming three years, according to Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait.

Minister Maait - first from R - and Ambassador Oka Hiroshi - third from R - at tyhe launch event.

Maait made his statements during a ceremony that was held on Saturday to launch Egypt’s first Samurai bonds in Japan.

The ceremony was attended by the Japanese Ambassador to Egypt Oka Hiroshi, as well as other Egyptian and Japanese officials.

Egypt issued its first-of-a-kind Japanese Yen-dominated bonds with a total value of $500 million with a maturity of five years and an average cost representing 2.33 percent of annual issuance to diversify its financial resources and investor base amid the ongoing global economic challenges by tapping the Japanese debt market.

This issuance is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Maait also expounded that the government decreased government bodies’ debt to GDP ratio prior to the pandemic to 90.2 percent by the end of June 2019, down from the 108 percent recorded in June 2017.

However, he added, the rate rose to 91.6 percent by the end of June 2021 due to the pandemic and its repercussions.

Regarding debt relief, the minister explained that the government managed to reduce the budget’s overall expenses on debts to 36 percent in June 2021, down from 40 percent in June 2020, adding that this action helped the state direct additional finance to social protection, education, and health programmes.

The government is also poised to launch its first issuance of sovereign Islamic sukuk bonds before the end of FY2021/22 in order to attract fresh investors from the MENA region and Asia for the purpose of providing the required finances to implement the state’s planned projects.

In October 2021, Egypt began taking steps to secure financial facilities for its Islamic sukuk issuance, which are expected to amount to $2 billion.

For the Samurai bonds, the minister said that the issuance is a culmination of the finance ministry’s efforts to uplift the state’s efficiency in debt management and diversifying debt financing instruments, which both will contribute to lowering the cost of financing, executing the development projects being implemented, as well as providing more job opportunities.

He added that these bonds have attracted various Japanese investors, reflecting their confidence in the sturdiness of Egypt’s economy, its ability to attain its objectives, and its resilience against the ongoing economic challenges.

“Egypt is looking forward to introducing more issuances of such kind of bonds going forward. Japanese investments have a major presence in Egypt, with 87 Japanese companies and Japanese-Egyptian joint investment firms operating in the domestic market across several sectors with total investments worth $1 billion,” Maait noted.

During the ceremony, the Japanese Ambassador to Egypt Oka Hiroshi noted that the issuance of the Samurai bonds contributes to enhancing the bilateral relations between the two countries, which involve Japanese support to Egypt’s economic reform efforts.

Hiroshi also asserted Japan’s support to the upcoming UN’s Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP 27) that Egypt is set to host in Sharm El-Sheikh this November.

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