EconSource: Saudi Bond Issues to Soar as Government Plugs Deficit

Bond issues by Saudi Arabia’s government are expected to be worth tens of billions of dollars by the end of 2015 as the state ramps up debt sales to fill a gap in finances created by low prices for oil exports. Central bank governor Fahad al-Mubarak announced last week that Riyadh had sold its first sovereign bonds since 2007, a 15 billion riyal ($4 billion) issue. Bankers and investors believe the recent issue signals the government’s intention to launch regular debt sales, which will find ready buyers among local institutions. While Mubarak did not say when more bonds would be issued, bankers expect heavy issuance in coming months that could change Saudi banks’ balance sheets and eventually help to create an active domestic bond market. [Reuters, 7/16/2015]

Syria’s opposition plans to replace Syrian pound with Turkish lira
The Syrian opposition forces and institutions in the north are investigating whether the Turkish lira could substitute the Syrian pound. The Committee for Replacing the Currency—a civil society initiative sponsored by the Association of Syrian Economists—is working in opposition-controlled areas to replace the Syrian pound with the Turkish lira. Starting August 1, the committee will take steps to gradually move Syrians toward use of the Turkish lira in collaboration with several opposition institutions. Essential items such as bread and fuel will be priced in Turkish lira under the supervision of an oversight committee. The salaries of the employees in opposition institutions will be paid in Turkish lira and traders and manufacturers will be encouraged to price their goods in Turkish lira. [Al Monitor, 7/15/2015]

Tunisia bill would pardon financial corruption if funds returned
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi is calling on parliament to adopt a law pardoning people charged with or convicted of financial corruption if they confess and return any money obtained. A bill was presented to the cabinet on Tuesday and should be submitted to parliament soon, government spokesman Dhafer Neji said. It would apply both to public servants and the broader public. Government employees under investigation or convicted in cases of financial corruption would be exonerated if they did not personally benefit financially. Anyone who profited from financial corruption would be able to go before a special commission and be exonerated if they paid back the money with five percent interest for each year since it was obtained. [AFP, 7/15/2015]

Egypt cancels temporary ban on cotton imports
Egypt’s cabinet decided Wednesday to cancel a temporary ban on cotton imports and form a committee to review agricultural policy on cotton. The committee will include the Ministry of Industry and International Trade, the Ministry of Investment, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Planning. Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture imposed a temporary ban on cotton imports to protect domestic cotton production and improve its marketing. However, the decision sparked fears of a backlash on the domestic spinning and weaving industry. [Ahram Online, 7/16/2015]

Also of interest
Saudi Arabia triggers potential fuel price war | Reuters
Yemen oil refinery in flames after rebel rocket attack | AFP
Egypt stocks extend rally on positive news | Reuters
Egypt to raise electricity prices for Gaza | Ahram Online
Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues declined 4 percent in June | Ahram Online
Iraq says no alarm at prospect of hiked Iran oil exports | AFP
EBRD boosts financing for renewable energy in Turkey | The Financial
Turkey’s incomes circle the drain | Al Monitor