Egypt Able to Meet All International Debt Obligations, PM Says

Egypt is fully able to meet its international debt obligations, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said, looking to ease market concerns over the North African nation’s economic situation, Bloomberg News reported. S&P Global Ratings in April lowered its outlook on Egypt to negative and forecast a further currency deprecation, while Moody’s Investors Service warned last week of rising risks for the government’s “debt affordability and debt-sustainability profile.” At the same time, the cost of insuring Egypt’s debt has climbed, reflecting worries over whether authorities are moving fast enough in implementing reforms pledged when they secured a $3 billion International Monetary Fund program. Those changes are key to unlocking billions of dollars in additional aid, largely from Gulf Arab states. Speaking at an event Saturday, Madbouly said he wanted to address concerns raised by international institutions. “I reaffirm to you, the Egypt state has not and will not fail to pay back any of its international obligations,” he said, adding that the government fully factors these commitments into its plans. He added: “We have not, so far, been late in covering any of our obligations” and “God willing” that will continue. A key component in Egypt’s latest reform program is the sale of state-held stakes in local companies. Authorities in February revealed a list of 32 firms to be offered to investors, either through additional stakes or sales on the Egyptian stock market. Madbouly said Saturday that Egypt would offer 10 more military-affiliated companies, in addition to fuel distributor Wataniya and water-bottler Safi, both previously announced. Authorities expect to bring in at least $2 billion from the sale of state assets by the end of June, and the cabinet has set up a committee to help tackle any bureaucratic hurdles that may be impeding progress, he said. Read more.