EconSource: Egypt’s President Sisi Launches Loan Program for SMEs
Egypt’s banking sector will inject EGP 200 billion ($25 billion) to support small and medium businesses (SMEs), President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Saturday.

“I have assigned the central bank to make the most of the banking sector to implement a comprehensive program to support small and medium businesses,” al-Sisi said, adding that loans for SMEs over the next four years would not be less than 20 percent of all loans issued. On Sunday, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) issued guidelines on how it will incentivize banks to participate in a “comprehensive program” to help finance SMEs. The CBE said interest rates on loans offered to SMEs would not exceed 5 percent. In return for issuing the loans, participating banks would be permitted to reduce their level of required reserves held at the CBE by an amount equivalent to what they lend. The SME program aims to finance 350,000 companies and create 4 million new job opportunities over a period of four years. [Reuters, 1/9/2016]
Turkey’s government boosted its economic growth forecast and pledged reforms to cut stubbornly high inflation on Monday, citing domestic political stability as the driving force for its revisions. The country raised its 2015 growth forecast to 4 percent from October’s forecast of 3 percent, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said, citing economic “momentum” as he unveiled the government’s updated medium-term program. Simsek also raised gross domestic product (GDP) targets for 2016 to 4.5 percent from 4 percent, adding that annual GDP expansion will reach 5 percent in 2017 and 2018. Turkey’s inflation rate will decline to 7.5 percent by the end of 2016, from 8.8 percent in 2015, Simsek said. “Slowing down inflation is a top priority for us,” he said. “The reform program’s purpose is to move Turkey up into a higher class, to achieve sustainable, strong growth.” [WSJ, Anadolu Agency, Daily Sabah, 1/11/2016]
Saudi Arabia is considering selling shares in refining ventures with foreign oil firms, but would not offer a stake in the crude oil exploration and production operations of state oil giant Saudi Aramco, sources said. Some Aramco managers have been informed that the company is looking at listing shares in “joint downstream subsidiaries” at home and abroad. One option is to create a holding company that would group together Aramco’s stakes in the downstream subsidiaries, one source said. Shares in the parent firm would not be offered, he added. “The holding company is the one which could be listed, not Aramco itself,” he said. Saudi Aramco Chairman Khalid al-Falih told the Wall Street Journal that there was no specific timeline yet for the listing, but that Saudi Aramco is “considering a listing at the top. So a listing of the main company, and obviously the main company will include upstream.” [Reuters, 1/11/2016]
Bahrain has approved raising domestic gasoline prices, the cabinet said in a statement on Monday, as part of the government’s efforts to boost revenues amid low oil prices. State news agency BNA said the cabinet set the new price for super fuel at 160 Bahraini fils ($0.424) per liter from 100 fils, while the price for regular fuel would be raised to 125 fils per liter from 90 fils. The new prices will take effect on Tuesday. Since its oil income started to fall last year, the government’s budget deficit has widened and the subsidies have become much harder for Bahrain to afford. [Reuters, 1/11/2016]
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