News / Economy

Egypt Plans Extra Stimulus by Year-end, Suez Canal Project

A shopkeeper waits for tourists at a souvenir shop in old Cairo, Oct. 29, 2013.
A shopkeeper waits for tourists at a souvenir shop in old Cairo, Oct. 29, 2013.
Reuters
The Egyptian government will launch a new economic stimulus package by the end of the year, the finance minister said on Monday, bringing forward spending plans that will help revive the economy but put even more strain on state coffers.

Pointing to efforts to attract new investment, the military-backed government also said it would launch a tender to draw up plans to develop a corridor around the Suez Canal, reviving a mega-project tabled by deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

The government ministers were speaking at a Euromoney conference aimed at boosting confidence in an economy battered by close to three years of political turmoil, dating back to the 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak.

Boosted by financial support from Gulf states hostile to Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, the government installed in July is pumping billions of dollars into the economy of the Arab world's most populous nation.

Finance Minister Ahmed Galal said the second stimulus package, previously estimated at 24 billion Egyptian pounds ($3.5 billion), would be launched “before January.” The government had previously indicated it might only be brought in early next year.

The first stimulus package was initially set at 22.3 billion pounds, but the government announced on October 21 it had increased it to 29.6 billion pounds.

”The second package is a heavy burden on the budget especially since it is not yet clear where the financing will come from,” said Moheb Malak, an economist at Prime Holding.

”In terms of growth it is expansionary and a positive thing. However, most of the first package went into consumption,” he said, adding that the second package should be directed towards investment in areas such as transport infrastructure.

During Morsi's year in power, Egypt's budget deficit widened to almost 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), a number the government, backed by Gulf aid, hopes to reduce to around 10 percent this year.

It also hopes investors and tourists will bring dollars, taking pressure off the Egyptian pound, which has lost almost 16 percent of its value since the uprising and even more on the black market.

Fragile economy

Egypt's finances are in a precarious state with a massive deficit, but the government has rejected the conventional wisdom of International Monetary Fund-prescribed austerity measures.

If the plan fails, a new government expected to be elected early next year could find itself deep in debt, its currency overvalued and an economy in crisis.

In separate comments to financial daily Al-Mal, Galal said the ministry was coordinating with the planning ministry to decide the size of the new spending and the sources of finance “without that causing new strain on the public finances.”

Egypt's economy has been crippled by social and political turmoil since Mubarak's downfall in 2011, but has been helped in recent months by funding from several Gulf Arab States that are hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates promised a combined $12 billion in loans, grants and fuel shipments after the army, prompted by mass protests, overthrew Morsi on July 3.

Investment Minister Osama Saleh signaled the government intended to press ahead with plans to develop the Suez Canal corridor.

He said a tender to draw up the plans would be finalized by the end of the month and offered globally. He did not elaborate.

It echoes plans outlined by the Morsi administration to revive and expand a series of projects initiated in the late 1990s to turn the banks of the Suez Canal into a world trading and industrial center.

The Suez Canal is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia and a crucial source of foreign exchange income for Egypt, bringing in some $5 billion a year in tolls.

Malak said: “It is about time for it to receive additional investment and development so it can remain as a strategic route... there is a lot to do.”

He added that the size of the development and the time frame are still vague.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8874
JPY
USD
120.83
GBP
USD
0.6497
CAD
USD
1.3271
INR
USD
66.162

Rates may not be current.