What we’re tracking on 12 March 2017
Good morning from Cairo, where we’re happy this morning to mark both our return home from Dubai, where we attended the EFG Hermes One on One, and our 600th weekday edition of Enterprise.
The best news we’ve read in ages: Month-on-month inflation is cooling, a key indicator we suggested last month that you folks look for. We have chapter-and-verse in Speed Round, below.
Random observation from the road: China loves Egypt. We reported in February that volumes to Egypt were up 58% last year over 2015, a development that came after Beijing named Egypt a preferred market. Well, it’s very real: Emirates Airlines was running full DXB-CAI return flights both days we were in the air, almost entirely thanks to hundreds of middle-aged and older Chinese tourists heading to Omm El Donia on package tours. Others flying EgyptAir to the One on One also reported heavy volumes of Chinese holidaymakers.
Finance Minister Amr El Garhy has been meeting with a team from the International Monetary Fund in London over the weekend to discuss the government’s progress on economic reforms. The sit-down comes ahead of a scheduled visit by an IMF delegation in April to review progress on the reforms to which we’ve committed before the fund disburses the second tranche of the USD 12 bn bailout package. El Garhy tells Reuters’ Arabic service that he is also meeting with London investment banks to promote investing in Egyptian paper.
El Garhy added that he will present the FY2017-18 budget to the cabinet economicgroup sometime this month. El Garhy had previously said the IMF delegation had postponed its visit to April from March to allow the Finance Ministry to iron out its budget for the next fiscal year. Policy watchers will scour the budget looking for signs that the reform program is moving forward. Last week, a bid by Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy to reform a small facet of the bread subsidy program was reversed after protests erupted in multiple governorates. On the flipside, sources from the Electricity Ministry have been telling the local press that there is no turning back from raising electricity prices in July.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that spending will break EGP 1.1 tn in thenew budget year,up from EGP 975 bn in FY2016-17, according to Al Mal. GDP is anticipated to come in at EGP 4 tn, Ismail said. Deputy Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had said last week that budget spending will rise in part because the Finance Ministry is looking to make good on the government’s constitutionally mandated minimum spending on health and education.
Public service announcement #1: This lousy weather we had this past weekend is due to continue this morning. Quoting the National Meteorological Authority, Ahram Online tells us that, “Rain will be dominant in the north of the country, reaching to Cairo and Sinai along with wind carrying dust that could limit drivers’ visibility.”
PSA #2: Time changes in the United States and Canada this morning, so add an hour to any time quoted to you in the US of A or the Great White North. Clocks move ahead an hour starting at 2am. Time won’t change in the United Kingdom until 26 March, and Egypt no longer observes daylight savings time.
PSA #3: There are something on the order of 76 days left until Ramadan.