What we’re tracking on 18 March 2018
Another tell the CBE may lower interest rates this month? The central bank put out a statement on Thursday (pdf) saying that February’s drop in annual urban inflation to 14.4% was the lowest inflation rate witnessed since October 2016. As signs pointed to the CBE reaching its inflation target of 13% by 4Q2018, the CBE decided to lower interest rates by 100 Bps last month, the statement said. The CBE expects inflation to remain under control in the medium term. Look for this to fuel the expectation that the CBE’s monetary policy committee will cut interest rates this month. Research houses from EFG Hermes to Pharos have been unanimous in saying that the CBE might cut interest rates again this month.
The central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee next meets on 29 Marchto consider interest rates. Not this coming Thursday, as we suggested last week. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
The slog to to the next fiscal year’s budget has begun: The Ismail cabinet will meet today to discuss the FY2018-19 budget, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail reportedly said, according to Al Mal. The government is targeting a budget deficit to 8.5% of GDP next fiscal year and a primary budget surplus of 2%. Ismail added that the new budget would see unprecedented spending on social welfare, but did not note projected cuts to energy subsidy spending. Finance Minister Amr El Garhy had said that the new budget would target GDP growth 5.5% and projected that revenues for the year would reach EGP 1 tn for the first time in the country’s history. He had said the government would introduce the bill to parliament on 31 March.
Don’t expect the PM himself to attend the budget meeting as he reportedly left Egypt last night for follow up check ups on his health, according to the newspaper.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will meet with his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Cairo today, Al Shorouk reports. The meeting follows the first summit of the Egyptian-Emirati Economic Committee which saw the signing of a number of MoUs to lower trade barriers (we have more in the Speed Round).
Voting in the presidential election has begun with Egyptians living abroad voting at embassies and consulates worldwide. Voters in Egypt go to the polls 26-28 March. We have more in today’s Speed Round, below.
A weeklong heat wave begins today, with temperatures well above the seasonal average, according to the meteorological authority. Our favorite weather app shows the mercury rising to 31°C today and peaking at 40°C on Friday before cooling to the 23°C on Saturday.
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And last, but not least: A belated happy birthday and happy St. Patrick’s Day to The Colonel. Thank you for being the best father a guy could ever have asked for.