Printing EGP 12 bn: An easy solution for al-Sisi, a difficult one for Egyptians

Data issued by the Central Bank of Egypt CBE revealed that General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime printed about EGP 12 billion last August (one US dollar equals approximately EGP 16.30).

This comes at a time when indicators show that the various economic sectors, especially the private sector, are facing continuous stagnation, which threatens the already deteriorating living conditions in the country where one third of its population lives below the poverty line, according to official data.

Data available data from the CBE bulletins indicates that the value of the issued cash reached EGP 547.29 billion pounds ($34 billion) last October, compared to EGP 535.21 ($33.1 billion) in July. 

11.8 billion pounds of the value was printed on 200 pound notes last August, while the remaining 200 million pounds were distributed mostly on 50 pound notes.

According to recent data, since mid-2014 the al-Sisi regime printed about EGP 257.5 billion, an unprecedented number, despite receiving huge loans, which twice exceed what the five previous presidents have borrowed in 60 years.

Data released by the CBE earlier in September showed that domestic debt jumped on an annual basis in March 2019 by 18.8 per cent, a few days after announcing an increase in external debt of about 20 per cent simultaneously with an unprecedented escalation of debt without interruption since the beginning of al-Sisi’s rule.

The CBE indicated that the total local public debt reached about EGP 4.204 trillion ($256.2 billion) in March, compared to EGP 3.538 trillion ($215 billion) in the same month of 2018.

This means that since al-Sisi’s assumption of power, the domestic debt has increased by 147% per cent, as local banks borrowed more than twice the rates of the five former presidents.

The policy of printing money exacerbates the suffering of Egyptian factories as the private sector has been contracted for the fourth consecutive month. The private sector in Egypt recorded the slowest pace in more than two years. 

The private sector employs about 70 per cent of the workforce in Egypt, according to official data, which indicates that continued deflation threatens large layoffs and increased unemployment.

Economists are concerned about any layoffs that will increase suffering in the country where poverty rates reached 32.5 per cent during the fiscal year 2017/2018, according to the latest government statistics.