Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez said that, with the last payment of Qatar’s deposit, Egypt will have payed US$6 billion back to Doha since June 2013, pointing out that the last batch of the deposit is $500 million to be paid at the beginning of 2015.
“The payment will not affect our reserves or the foreign exchange market,” Ramez said, adding that Qatar did not request to extend the deposit after the Saudi monarch mediated for reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar, which Egypt has welcomed.
He also said on the sidelines of the annual conference of the Union of Arab Banks in Beirut that the Finance Ministry will automatically pay the first quarter interests of the Suez Canal investment certificates to buyers in early December, but did not say how much they amount to.
He said the central bank is taking new measures to control the dollar black market, but did not disclose the nature of these measures. “They will not be police measures,” he assured.
He attributed the rise in the dollar exchange rate against the pound in recent days to an increasing demand from importers, traders and speculators who take advantage of announced dates of repayments of external obligations by the government in order to raise the rate in the black market.
“We import for $60 billion a year, which neither the central bank or the other banks provide alone. That is why there is a demand for the black market,” he explained, adding that the black market will be affected when citizens sell dollars in the banks. “In return, we will give them priority when they want to buy.”
On real estate funding, he said the maximum loan ceiling for middle-income brackets will in the next two weeks be raised from LE400,000 to LE 500,000 as part of an initiative that was launched in May. “The Housing Minister told me that units are finished already and that more would be allocated for low-income brackets,” he said. “We are willing to double the initiative from LE10 billion to LE20 billion to provide more housing units.”
He also said that he will decide in two weeks to open small branches for banks in the governorates with a capital ranging between two and five million pounds for each branch in order to facilitate transactions for citizens. “We aim to increase bank customers to 50 million,” he said, adding that the Suez Canal IPO alone brought 30,000 new customers.
Ramez said the mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is currently in Cairo to monitor the monetary policy of the central bank. “We need to regain the confidence of the IMF,” he said.
He also said that there are means for financing national projects other than the IPO system that was applied for the new Suez Canal.
He said the State Council obliged the Arab Investment Bank, the Export Development Bank and the Construction and Housing Bank to apply the maximum wage of LE42,000 per month and rejected the appeal they had submitted.
Ramez expected more bank managers to resign like those of the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Egypt due to the maximum wage application. “The Central Bank was the first to apply it,” he said.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm