The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is set to meet this Thursday, at a time when the Egyptian pound continues to face severe depreciation and the nation is in critical discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to rejuvenate their financial agreement. The divergence between the official and parallel market exchange rates has notably widened, with the currency trading at approximately EGP30.85 against the U.S. dollar in banks, while reaching highs of EGP72 in the parallel market as of today.
Amidst these economic challenges, there have been reports that Egypt has formulated a “preliminary formula” with the IMF for a revised loan program that has yet to be made official. This new strategy includes a significant devaluation of the Egyptian pound and proposes increasing the loan amount from the current $3 billion to $7 billion or more. Furthermore, it suggests extending the duration of the program. This development came to light following a meeting between Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, a delegation from the IMF, Central Bank Governor Hassan Abdalla, and Finance Minister Mohamed Maait, as disclosed by the Arab World Press.
The proposed devaluation of the pound is seen as an essential measure to bridge the widening gap between the official and parallel exchange rates. This decision is pending approval from the political leadership, with the IMF delegation backing the government’s initiatives to mitigate the trade balance deficit through strategic debt policies. The delegation has, however, advised prioritizing national projects that limit the accumulation of external debt without generating adequate dollar revenues.
A recent report by Capital Economics hinted that the CBE might keep its interest rates unchanged at the upcoming meeting, barring any new agreements with the IMF. The report highlighted the rapid progression of discussions with the IMF, suggesting the possibility of an announcement regarding a new agreement around the time of the MPC meeting, which could include a devaluation of the pound.
A poll conducted by Reuters among analysts predicted that the CBE is likely to maintain the interest rates on one-night deposits at 19.25 percent, with lending interest rates expected to remain at 20.25 percent. However, a minority of analysts anticipate a rate hike ranging from 100 to 300 basis points.
As Egypt stands at this economic crossroads, the decisions made in the upcoming days could significantly influence the nation’s financial stability and its relationship with international financial institutions. The world watches as Egypt navigates through these challenging times, seeking paths to recovery and sustainable growth.
In other news today, the CBE has issued new directives to banks, mandating adherence to the maximum daily cash withdrawal limits for both individuals and companies at bank branches, capped at 150,000 Egyptian pounds. This measure underscores the central bank’s commitment to maintaining financial stability and controlling liquidity within the banking system, especially in light of the currency’s volatility and the broader economic pressures facing the nation.
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