Egypt's Sisi aims to bring deficit down to 8.5 pct by 2017-18

Wednesday 21-05-2014 06:02 PM
Egypt's Sisi aims to bring deficit down to 8.5 pct by 2017-18

Presidential candidate and Egyptian former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi talks during a television interview broadcast on CBC and ONTV, in Cairo, May 6, 2014. REUTERS/Al Youm Al Saabi Newspaper


CAIRO, May 21 (Reuters) - The leading candidate for Egypt's new presidency, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, aims to cut the Egyptian budget deficit to 8.5 percent of gross domestic product by the fiscal year ending in June 2018 from last year's 14 percent, his campaign said on Wednesday.

Sisi, who is widely expected to win presidential elections next week, also targets GDP growth of 7 percent by the same fiscal year, a big jump for an economy that grew only about 2 percent in the last fiscal year.

About the same growth is expected this year, despite two stimulus packages, each worth around 30 billion Egyptian pounds ($4.2 billion), offered by the interim government since Sisi toppled Islamist president Mohamed Mursi last July.

Sisi has not given specifics on how he would reform subsidies, which eat up around a fifth of state spending.

Faster growth would push the unemployment rate down to 8 percent, according to the statement posted on Sisi's campaign website just days before the election. It now stands at more than 13 percent, compared with 8.9 percent before the revolt that swept Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011.

Egyptian Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian said on Tuesday the country's budget deficit would have reached almost 15 percent this fiscal year without aid. Arab Gulf countries pledged over $12 billion in aid after Mursi's ouster.

Dimian said that with aid the deficit would be around 11 percent this fiscal year. The government was working to keep it below 11 percent in the fiscal year starting in July. Without reforms, it would stand at 14 percent of GDP next fiscal year, Dimian said, adding the government would not let that happen.

In terms of monetary policy, Sisi's campaign statement listed inflation targeting as the central bank's "primary aim". Egypt's central bank has cut key rates by a cumulative 150 basis points since last July. It has cited "feeble" growth rates.

Egypt's annual core inflation rate, which strips out subsidised goods and volatile items such as fruit and vegetables, slowed to 9.11 percent in April. The urban consumer inflation rate slowed to 8.9 percent.

Annual inflation reached its highest rate in nearly four years in November and has been falling since then.

($1 = 7.1167 Egyptian Pounds) (Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; Editing byh Larry King)

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