Hisham Ramez replaces Farouq El-Okdah as Egypt Central Bank governor

Ahram Online , Friday 11 Jan 2013

Former deputy central banker Hisham Ramez is appointed new head of CBE, replacing longtime bank governor Farouq El-Okdah; Latter insists his departure not linked to currency devaluations

New Egypt Central Bank's governor, Hisham Ramez (Photo: Al-Ahram)

President Mohamed Morsi on Thursday named Hisham Ramez, a former deputy central bank governor, as the new head of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) after accepting the resignation of longstanding CBE governor Farouq El-Okdah, who has headed the bank since 2003.

Ramez will formally take up the position on 2 February. His first term will expire on 23 November 2015.

Ramez served as CBE number-two from 2008 to 2011, after which he briefly served as vice-chairman and managing director for Egypt's Commercial International Bank (CIB).

At a press conference at the presidential palace on Thursday, El-Okdah dismissed speculation that his resignation was  linked to recent devaluations of the Egyptian pound, stressing that he had tendered his resignation three weeks earlier because he had already exceeded his maximum eight-year mandate.

El-Okdah added that the CBE was the body that had initially suggested limiting the governor's tenure to two four-year terms in Egypt's recently-approved constitution.

At the conference, Ramez attempted to reassure attendees about Egypt's ongoing currency woes, saying "the current situation regarding the Egyptian pound is not a cause for much worry despite recent consecutive drops against the US dollar."

The Egyptian pound currently stands at 6.55 against the dollar.

It is expected that Ramez will maintain El-Okdah's longstanding monetary policies. El-Oqda has attempted to shore up the Egyptian pound against foreign currencies by tightening restrictions on currency speculation.

"I'm leaving the institution [the CBE] in safe hands," El-Okdah asserted at the conference.

Ramez, for his part, declared that Egypt's inflation rate was currently "stable." Annual inflation in December reached 4.7 per cent, representing slight growth over recent months, according to official data released Thursday.

El-Okdah, who worked with Ramez for nine years, has praised the latter's expertise as a banker.

In December, it was reported that El-Okdah had resigned for health reasons. Several days after the resignation reports, however, El-Okdah denied that he had stepped down, assuring that he remained central bank governor.

In 2011, El-Okdah received the "Central Bank Governor of the Year" award for the Middle East and North Africa on the sidelines of an IMF/World Bank meeting.

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