EconSource Headlines- February 20, 2014

Follow the latest in economic news and developments about the Arab transitions. 

Egypt’s interim president has raised pay for police as some of their forces join strike actions that have mushroomed across the country. Adly Mansour said that police will receive a 30 percent salary increase as hazard pay starting in March. Labor coordinators and activists say that workers’ strikes have spiked this past week, with more than 20,000 workers at Egypt’s largest public textile company, along with doctors, pharmacists, and even policemen stopping work to demand better pay amid worsening living conditions. [AP]
Egypt’s public finances remain the main weakness in the country’s sovereign credit profile, despite a slight improvement in its budgetary performance in the first half of the current fiscal year, Fitch Ratings says. Data for the first six months of the fiscal year ending June 2014 show the budget sector deficit narrowing to 4.4 percent of forecast GDP from 5.2 percent a year earlier. But the 15 percent improvement in government revenues was entirely driven by grants, which were EGP 36.9 billion ($5.3 billion) compared with EGP 3 billion in the first half of FY13. Spending rose 8 percent, driven by public sector pay and interest payments. Wages, subsidies, and interest payments have posted some of the largest increases in expenditure in recent years. [Reuters]
Morocco’s annual consumer price inflation rose to 0.5 percent in January from 0.4 percent in December because of increases in non-food prices, the high planning authority said today. Non-food price inflation rose at 1.1 percent from a year earlier, while the food index fell to 0.5 percent from 0.7 percent a year earlier. On a monthly basis, consumer price inflation rose 0.3 percent from 0.1 percent last month. [Reuters]
Over 600 business and financial figures from across North Africa met in Marrakech February 17th-18th for the third Maghreb Entrepreneurs’ Forum. The goal of the gathering, which was held at the prompting of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) and its Maghreb Employers’ Union (UME), was to re-launch the economic integration of the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) through the efforts of the private sector. The region currently faces multiple economic and security challenges, hence the “urgent need to boost economic and commercial exchange”, according to Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) Secretary-General Habib Ben Yahia. [Magharebia]
Also of Interest:
Egypt central bank allocates EGP 10 billion for cheap mortgages | Ahram
Egypt: Entrepreneurship subsidized at GAFI | EBD 
Interview- Jaber: UAE won’t let Egypt down, aids still ongoing | Amwal Al-Ghad
Egypt Islamic banking assets to hit $18 billion in 2014 | Zawya DJ [sub]
Morocco to set up ‘Africa-only’ phosphate mine | AFP
Tunisian SMEs receive €73 million line of credit from Italy | TAP
EU-Tunisia Entrepreneurship Council, a voice for businesses | ANSAMed
Yemen’s hidden oil and gas reserves | Yemen Post, Yemen Times
Impact of water scarcity on food security a priority for MENA meeting | FAO