Egypt finance minister says unrest losses huge
Egypt has suffered huge economic losses during political protests that broke out 10 days ago, but the government is committed to meeting its financial obligations, finance minister Samir Radwan said on Friday.
"Certainly it's going to be huge," Radwan said in an interview with Reuters Insider television. "It's too early to put the loss in terms of pounds and pennies."
He said the Egyptian government would honour all financial commitments once banks reopen on Sunday, including 21 billion Egyptian pounds worth of Treasury bills that must be redeemed next week. Radwan said the governor of the central bank had been in constant contact with the heads of banks.
"He has two major concerns. One, not starve the market for cash, and two, not to put any stringent measures on foreign investors and foreign dealers and so on, and of course ease the pressure on the Egyptian pound," Radwan said.
Two major sources of foreign exchange, tourism and remittances from workers abroad, had been hurt, Radwan said.
"One million tourists alone have left the country already. This is the height of the tourist season in Egypt," he said. "The sooner the present stand-off is over, the better our position will be to deal with the effect."
Asked about food prices, he said they would not be allowed to get out of hand after the political crisis was settled.
"We are adamant that markets should be controlled, that they should not be subject to chaos. It's normal that in a situation like this people would like to put up prices," Radwan said.