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Thursday, 30 March 2017

What we’re tracking on 30 March 2017

It’s MPC day: Expect the central bank’s monetary policy committee to keep interest rates on hold when it meets later today. 14 out of 15 economists surveyed by Reuters expects the bank will hold overnight deposit rates at 14.75% and overnight lending rates at 15.75%. Pharos Holding’s Ramy Oraby also expects the MPC to keep the rates unchanged as financial conditions are tight and inflation levels remain elevated, ruling out movement.

Cabinet approved the FY2017-17 budget yesterday during its weekly meeting. The budget now goes to the House of Representatives for approval, according to a cabinet statement. Total state expenditures are expected to ring in at EGP 1.2 tn, with revenues projected at EGP 830 bn. Subsidies and social benefits will cost state coffers EGP 331 bn, marking a 19% increase from last fiscal year’s allocations, while allocations for state investments are set to increase 38% year-on-year to reach EGP 125.4 bn. The budget targets a deficit of 9.1% of GDP, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy said at a press conference, Reuters reports. The government’s growth target for FY2017-18 is 4.6% and it has plans to return to international lending markets by the end of 2017 or early 2018, according to the newswire. Al Mal also has a breakdown of the budget’s key figures.

We made up with Saudi Arabia yesterday. Rather publicly, at that, with smiles all around. And forgive us for being as petty as Qatar is tiny, but we rather enjoyed the part where President Abdel Fattah El Sisi led the Egyptian delegation out of the chamber right in the middle of the Qatari emir’s speech. Their destination? To meet King Salman, who also skipped the Qatari’s blathering. We have more on rapprochement with KSA in Speed Round, while the snub of Qatar was the talk of the town on Last Night’s Talk Shows.

In a development that bodes well for Egypt’s bid to once again be allowed to (in effect) buy US weapons on credit, US President Donald Trump has dropped the US’s demands that Bahrain address its human rights record before selling it F-16 jets. “The U.S. State Department told Congress it backs the sale of 19 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16 fighters to Bahrain without preconditions on improved human rights previously demanded by the Obama administration,” Bloomberg reports. US Central Command boss Gen. Joseph Votel, who was in Cairo for talks in February, also told the House of Representatives yesterday that “foreign arms sales to allies shouldn’t be burdened with preconditions tied to human rights because they could damage military-to-military ties.”

More countries will join the US ban on in-cabin electronics use on flights out of theMiddle East, claims the Republican chairman of the House Transportation Security Subcommittee, who offers no further detail. The congressman made the comments after receiving a classified intelligence briefing.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are out. We fear the inclusion of this Bixby AI assistant thing will be the new TouchWiz (it’s why we’ve always preferred Nexus, Google Play Edition and now Pixel phones when we walk on the Android side), but there’s no denying the hardware looks nice. We like Dieter Bohn’s video roundup for The Verge (runtime: 5:14); there’s text below the opening video for those not inclined to watch this morning. Or hop over to the official Samsung site for the handset. The S8 looks set to debut in the US and Canada on Friday, 21 April and in the UK and most other global markets starting Friday, 28 April. We couldn’t find specific mention of an Egypt release date.

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