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Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Budget deficit widens to 3.9% in 1H2021-22

Egypt’s budget deficit stood at 3.9% in 1H2021-2022, widening from 3.6% in the first half of last fiscal year, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait yesterday told Bloomberg Asharq. The figures continue a trend seen in the first quarter of the fiscal year, when the deficit widened y-o-y from 2.7% to 3.1% for the July-October 2021 period.

The budget deficit is expected to stand at 6.9% by the end of FY2021-2022, after the ministry last week revised upwards its prior forecast of 6.7% on the basis of first-half data. The deficit narrowed to 7.4% last fiscal year from 8.0% the year prior, and is expected to narrow again to 6.1% in FY2022-2023.

Primary surplus expectations narrow: FinMin is now expecting the primary surplus to hit 1.1-1.2% in the current fiscal year from 0.9% a year prior, Maait said, down from the 1.5% it had penciled in last year. Egypt generated a EGP 3.2 bn primary surplus in 1H2021-2022, the ministry announced last week. That’s down 77% on the same period last fiscal year, but nevertheless an improvement from the slight primary deficit registered in the first quarter.

No details on debt: Maait didn’t disclose how much the government spent on servicing its debts, which is the single-biggest cost to the public purse. Official figures show that interest payments alone accounted for 41% of all expenditure during 1Q2021-2022. The ministry expects to spend EGP 579.6 bn on interest during the course of the year, amounting to almost a third of total expenditure.

MEANWHILE- Samurai bonds coming in H12022: Egypt aims to sell around USD 500 mn of JPY-denominated bonds in Japan by the end of June, when the current fiscal year wraps, Maait also said. “The bond issuance will be in JPY, but the transfer currency can be in JPY or USD,” Maait said, adding that the ministry is currently discussing the issuance with the central bank.

Background: Maait and Japan’s ambassador in Cairo discussed last week taking the potential bond issuance to market in Japan, as part of Egypt’s debt diversification strategy. The government had been mulling selling JPY-denominated bonds back in 2019, as well as RMB-denominated Panda bonds, but Maait said in late 2020 that the planned sales were being pushed until at least FY2021-2022 because of complications caused by the pandemic. Marketing foreign bonds in Asian markets is a different ball game and also requires new ratings assessments by Asian agencies, a senior government official told us in 2020.

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