Members of the Egyptian parliament said the sharp rise in the price of the dollar against the Egyptian pound requires exceptional measures to prevent the aggravation of the crisis.
“The dollar crisis and the pound exchange rate will be one of the most important issues raised in the parliament, following the completion of the formation of the permanent specialised committee in February,” they said.
MP Amr El-Gohary said the parliament’s economics committee has many issues to tackle, on top of which is the dollar crisis, which exacerbates day after day under multiple conditions. These conditions include the decline in tourism and international trade, and the impact of the latter on the Suez Canal revenues, as well as the flagging remittances from Egyptians abroad.
The parliament awaits five draft laws from the government addressing pensions, social security, old rental housing, civil service, as well as the value-added tax (VAT) law. He said the parliament will not discuss any laws at this time until it adopts the parliamentary bylaws at the end of February, which will be followed by the formation of the permanent specialised committees.
The dollar exchange rate in the parallel market has neared the EGP 9 mark, while the official price at banks remains EGP 7.83.
Meanwhile, the Suez Canal’s revenues declined to $5.17bn in 2015, compared to $5.46bn in 2014. Moreover, tourism revenues declined to $6.1bn in 2015 compared to $7.3bn in 2014.
According to El-Gohary, custom tariffs imposed on imports should be increased in view of the economic circumstances Egypt is currently undergoing. Moreover, a suitable environment must be ensured for the national industry, in parallel with supporting faltering factories to restore operations.
He believes the president’s decision regarding increasing customs on some merchandise in February aims ease pressure on the pound, rather than decreasing imports.
Head of the temporary committee for industry and energy at the parliament, Mohamed El-Zeiny, said the dollar crisis requires an environment that encourages foreign direct investments, which in turn creates job opportunities.
All the obstacles investors are facing, whether foreign or local, must be removed to allow the implementation of their projects. The parliament will work on amending the Unified Investment Law that was approved, El-Zeiny said.
The trading of dollars outside the banking system must be criminalised, and exchange firms or individuals working in this business must be penalised, El-Zeiny said. He further called on exporters to give their dollars to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).