Egypt auctions US$850 million worth of treasury bills amid shortage of dollars
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said on the last day of 2023 that it had auctioned $US 850 million worth of denominated treasury bills in a bid to overcome the rising shortage of dollars amid a severe economic crisis triggered by domestic and external factors.
The maturity date of the treasury bill (T-Bill) is set for 31 December 2024 at an average of 5.149 percent, local news outlets reported cited the CBE as saying in an official statement on Sunday evening.
“A T-Bill is a short-term debt duty backed by the country’s finance ministry with a one-year maturity that depends on interest rate expectations. CBE usually issues T-Bills on behalf of the finance ministry to cover the budget deficit,” financial analyst Ahmed Hamouda told The New Arab.
Egypt's budget deficit accounted for six percent of its GDP in the fiscal year 2022/2023. In the same fiscal year, the country's debt-to-GDP ratio amounted to 95.6 percent with GDP recorded as 9.8 trillion Egyptian pounds (about US$318 billion).
“It’s one of many attempts by the Egyptian government to provide US dollars amid a dramatic shortage and the dominance of the informal, parallel market,” Hamoud explained.
Egypt’s local currency has long been struggling against the US dollar due to controversial economic measures taken by the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The value of the US dollar against the Egyptian pound in the country’s informal market has recently soared, and this has largely been due to Israel's unprecedentedly brutal war on Gaza that broke out on 7 October last year.
One US dollar is officially equal to about 30.90 Egyptian pounds (EGP), whereas its value against the local currency on the black market ranges from 51 – 52 EGP.
Over the past months, the government has begun selling state assets to wealthy Gulf nations, including army-owned firms, to attract foreign currency and liberate the economy from state control, a significant demand of the IMF loan programme.
The country has been under review for a $US 3 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but the procedure has been postponed several times over the past months with no final due date announced yet.