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Egypt limits external borrowing 

April 20, 2022 at 10:20 am

Mohamed Maait, Egypt’s finance minister on June 24, 2019 [Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Egypt is setting a ceiling for external borrowing, Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait announced yesterday, adding that the country’s foreign debt hit $145.529 billion at the end of December 2021.

Maait told parliament that he had formed a “committee to discuss limiting borrowing to priority projects only.”

On Monday, the central bank said that Egypt’s foreign debt had risen to $145.529 billion at the end of December 2021, compared to $137.42 billion in September.

An official source recently told the media that Egypt’s external debt had increased by about $8.109 billion in “just three months,” marking a 5.9 per cent increase.

Egypt has been plunged into a financial crisis amid warnings from international rating agencies that the North African country would enter into a catastrophic spiral of domestic and foreign debt, especially after the local currency had devalued by 17 per cent.

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Standard & Poor’s Global agency recently reported that Egypt’s total foreign debt was “expected to reach $391.8 billion by the end of this year after it was only $184.9 billion in 2017.”

In recent years, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has embarked on several vanity projects which have cost the country a considerable amount of money with very little return.

In 2014 the government extended the Suez Canal at a cost of $8 billion with the claim that post renovation the revenue would increase to $100 billion a year. However, revenue fell from $5.5 billion to $5.1 billion in 2015 and have never risen sufficiently to repay the loan installments taken out to fund the project.