Maged Fahmy, chairperson of the Industrial Development & Workers Bank of Egypt (IDWBE), said that industry is the future of the country in the coming period, next to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
What are your expectations for the targeted growth rate during 2018, and what are the most important sectors that can contribute strongly to this growth?
I expect the GDP growth rate to reach 5% in 2018.
I see that the energy sector is the most prominent sector that can contribute strongly to this growth, especially after the recent oil discoveries, like Zohr field.
Several other sectors will play a major role in the growth of the economy this year, including construction, agriculture, and I expect a major industrial boom.
What are your expectations for internal and external public debt and the budget deficit in 2018?
I expect that the pace of borrowing from the local or foreign markets will ease in 2018, but it is also expected that the size of the current debt will not improve much.
The deficit in the state budget is still growing, while the state continues to finance it through high-cost borrowing, pointing out that the state has rights, including taxes, which, if collected, can bridge the gap.
I would also like to point out that half of the transactions in the Egyptian economy are represented by the hidden economy or the informal economy, which is far from the eyes of the state and does not yield taxes. We have yet to see someone working on this file seriously.
What are your expectations for the value of the pound against the dollar this year, and your reasons?
I expect the dollar to fall to EGP 16 against the dollar, amid expectations of increased foreign exchange resources during the new year.
What are your expectations for inflation trends and interest rate trends?
I expect a gradual decline in both inflation and interest rates during the first quarter of this year. I also expect a decline in interest rates by 7% by the end of the year.
What is your view of foreign exchange reserves and the ability of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to meet external obligations?
As mentioned previously, there are strong expectations of significantly increasing foreign exchange resources of the state in the new year, which will reflect positively on the reserves of foreign exchange at the CBE to reach $40bn by the end of this year.
What is the role of banks in supporting investors and increasing lending during the new year?
The role of banks in the service of the economy has never stopped, and banks support all projects and economic sectors and are ready for any future investments in addition to their role in achieving financial inclusion.
What are the most important sectors that banks will focus on in the new year?
In my opinion, industry is the future of the state in the coming period, as well as small and medium enterprises.
IDWBE pays special attention to small and medium-sized enterprises because of their importance in serving the Egyptian society and in keeping up with the initiative of the CBE, in line with the state policy, for SMEs to be the engine of economic progress.
In the framework of achieving social justice, the bank has had a positive impact through a modern retail banking strategy, under the name “retail banking for community development”.
The bank has also activated the CBE’s initiative on real estate mortgage financing for all types of clients, including the limited income, middle, and upper middle classes.