Egypt’s minister of planning and international cooperation Ashraf El-Arabi (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt’s economic growth rate increased by 0.4 percent in the second quarter of the current fiscal year 2013/14 compared to the previous quarter, to reach 1.4 percent, according to a statement by the minister of planning and international cooperation on Saturday.
The annual growth rate shrunk by 0.8 percent compared to the same period of the last fiscal year, which stood at 2.2 percent during the period October-December of 2012/13.
Planning Minister Ashraf El-Arabi said at a press conference that the growth rate during the first half of the 2013/14 fiscal year was 1.2 percent, and that the government hopes to see the rate rise to over 2 percent by next June, as opposed to the official target of 3.5 percent announced by the previous cabinet under former prime minister Hazem El-Beblawi.
Details of the second quarter and the first half of the fiscal year 2013/14 are yet to be released.
In an interview with Reuters, El-Arabi forecast the economic growth rate for the next fiscal year 2014/15 to range between 3 and 3.4 percent, and that of 2016/17 to reach 5 percent.
The minister said that Egypt’s budget deficit is expected to reach between 11 and 12 percent of GDP by the end of the current fiscal year, compared to 14 percent in the previous fiscal year.
Egypt’s budget deficit shrank by 6.3 percent in the first half of the 2013/14 fiscal year compared to the previous year, according to the finance ministry's data.
The deficit reached LE89.4 billion ($12.9 billion) between July and December 2013, down from the LE91.4 billion ($13.3 billion) recorded in the previous six months.
Egypt’s interim government launched a stimulus package worth LE30 billion ($4.3 billion) in August last year in an attempt to reinvigorate the ailing economy.
In February, the government unveiled its second stimulus package, which would inject LE33.9 billion ($4.87 billion) into the economy.
Most of the money comes from aid pledged by the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries.
“So far, we have spent around LE25 billion of both packages and soon we will announce a major project that may save one million job opportunities,” El-Arabi told Reuters.