EconomyEgypt

Banks in Egypt say outstanding dollar requests mount up

Egyptian banks have accumulated requests for hundreds of millions of dollars with the Central Bank which has not released any dollars into the market in over a month.

The Central Bank in January pledged to stabilise exchange rates and dollar supply by making strategic injections of dollars into the sector. Bankers played down the impact the delays were having on their .

“We don't know why the Central Bank has made no dollar sales in the last month, but we are managing without them,” said one banker, who declined to be named.

“We would like dollars [from the Central Bank]… but the Central Bank has its reasons and we have to trust it to regulate the market,” said another banker.

Egyptian business daily al-Alam al-Youm said on Thursday that bank dollar requests with the Central Bank amounted to some $630 million and it listed eight of the highest requests.

Reuters was able to confirm the amounts in question with three of the banks. The others could not be reached for comment.
Central Bank officials were not immediately available for comment on the size of the requests or the reasons behind recent delays in dollar sales.

Although there is a shortage of dollars in the market, several bankers said their banks were managing to meet many of their customers' requirements by collecting dollars from the market place and using other instruments. Central Bank regulations permit banks to use dollar instruments such as travellers cheques', bank deposits and loans.

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“We sometimes resort to this method (of alternative instruments) when we need to… but it can be risky in the event of a devaluation,” one banker said.

introduced a new foreign exchange system in January to check the decline of the pound against the dollar after it had abandoned a nine-year currency peg in May and allowed the pound to depreciate from 3.40 to the dollar to nearly four pounds.

The pound is now valued officially by a “managed peg” system which allows the pound to trade one percent above or below a central rate, last week adjusted to 3.86 from an initial 3.85.

But black market rates have recently risen to around 4.10 pounds for people wishing to buy dollars, market sources said, as foreign exchange bureaux and banks have been unable to provide customers with large amounts of foreign currency at the official rates of exchange.

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This article was first published by Reuters on 7 June 2001.

Author

  • Khaled Diab

    Khaled Diab is an award-winning journalist, blogger and writer who has been based in Tunis, Jerusalem, Brussels, Geneva and Cairo. Khaled also gives talks and is regularly interviewed by the print and audiovisual media. Khaled Diab is the author of two books: for the Politically Incorrect (2017) and Intimate Enemies: Living with Israelis and in the Holy Land (2014). In 2014, the Anna Lindh Foundation awarded Khaled its Journalist Award in the press category. This website, The Chronikler, won the 2012 Best of the Blogs (BOBs) for the best English-language blog. Khaled was longlisted for the Orwell journalism prize in 2020. In addition, Khaled works as communications director for an environmental NGO based in Brussels. He has also worked as a communications consultant to intergovernmental organisations, such as the and the UN, as well as civil . Khaled lives with his beautiful and brilliant wife, Katleen, who works in humanitarian aid. The foursome is completed by Iskander, their smart, creative and artistic son, and Sky, their mischievous and footballing cat. Egyptian by birth, Khaled's life has been divided between the and Europe. He grew up in Egypt and the UK, and has lived in , on and off, since 2001. He holds dual Egyptian-Belgian nationality.

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Khaled Diab

Khaled Diab is an award-winning journalist, blogger and writer who has been based in Tunis, Jerusalem, Brussels, Geneva and Cairo. Khaled also gives talks and is regularly interviewed by the print and audiovisual media. Khaled Diab is the author of two books: Islam for the Politically Incorrect (2017) and Intimate Enemies: Living with Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land (2014). In 2014, the Anna Lindh Foundation awarded Khaled its Mediterranean Journalist Award in the press category. This website, The Chronikler, won the 2012 Best of the Blogs (BOBs) for the best English-language blog. Khaled was longlisted for the Orwell journalism prize in 2020. In addition, Khaled works as communications director for an environmental NGO based in Brussels. He has also worked as a communications consultant to intergovernmental organisations, such as the EU and the UN, as well as civil society. Khaled lives with his beautiful and brilliant wife, Katleen, who works in humanitarian aid. The foursome is completed by Iskander, their smart, creative and artistic son, and Sky, their mischievous and footballing cat. Egyptian by birth, Khaled’s life has been divided between the Middle East and Europe. He grew up in Egypt and the UK, and has lived in Belgium, on and off, since 2001. He holds dual Egyptian-Belgian nationality.

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