New finance minister may call for budget amendments

Egypt’s newly-appointed Minister of Finance Hazem al-Beblawy said he might submit a request to the ruling military council to accept loans from abroad if current budget reviews recommend loans.

In the draft budget put forward by former interim Finance Minister Samir Radwan in June, the ministry recommended filling the budget deficit by taking loans from international financial insitutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. In a revised budget, the ministry cut the deficit from 11 percent to 8.6 percent and announced it would no longer accept IMF and World Bank offers.

Many analysts believed that the ministry turned down the loans due to popular opposition.

Beblawy said the request would be resubmitted to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has the political authority to decide on the matter.

“We should not close the door in the face of foreign loans, especially if the local economy requires such financing,” Beblawy told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The finance minister enumerated some instances where foreign lending yielded positive results for Egypt, such as the construction of  the High Dam and the reopening of the Suez Canal following the 1973 war with Israel.

Beblawy said that the government’s current inclination to restrict privatization will not affect Egypt’s free market policies, and will not impact negotiations with foreign lenders.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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