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Egypt’s CBE Raises Interest Rates by 2% amid  Devaluation Rumors

February 2, 2024
Photo credit: Al-Ahram.

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) announced a two percent increase in interest rates on Thursday, 1 February, marking the first hike since August 2023. The overnight lending and deposit rates now stand at 22.5 percent and 21.25 percent, respectively. 

Despite persistent inflation, rates had remained unchanged for several months, with the average inflation rate reaching a record 34 percent in 2023. 

There is anticipation regarding the Central Bank’s monetary policy committee meeting this week, as the country awaits information on the timing of the next likely devaluation of the Egyptian pound.

“The hike is likely coming ahead of a EGP devaluation and the announcement of an expanded IMF deal,” Monica Malek of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank told Reuters.

Over the past two weeks, Egypt has engaged in discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) aimed at revitalizing and expanding a USD 3 billion (EGP 92 billion) loan agreement established in December 2022. According to Bloomberg, Egypt is going over a potential USD 10 billion (EGP 308 billion) deal.

Disbursements from the IMF on this loan were halted last year when Egypt failed to fulfill a commitment to allow the Egyptian Pound (EGP) to fluctuate based on market forces. 

Since March, the Egyptian Pound has been pegged at 30.85 to the dollar. However, on the black market, it has been trading as low as 71 EGP against the US Dollar.

In late January, the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr introduced three-year savings certificates featuring interest rates ranging from 23 to 27 percent. These new certificates were perceived as a strategy to absorb liquidity, redirecting funds that were initially intended to be retained in banks through the previous generation of savings certificates, which offered a 25 percent interest rate in 2022.

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