IMF in Egypt amid currency crisis

Updated 07 January 2013
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IMF in Egypt amid currency crisis

CAIRO: A senior IMF official met Egypt’s government on Monday for talks on a vital $4.8 billion loan as the Arab state battles to contain a currency crisis set off by political turmoil that is depleting its foreign reserves.
The IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia director, Masood Ahmed, met Prime Minister Hisham Kandil at the start of a visit coinciding with a sharp decline in the value of the Egyptian pound, which has hit a series of record lows against the dollar.
Before the visit, the International Monetary Fund had said Ahmed would discuss recent economic developments and “possible IMF support for Egypt in facing these challenges.” Egyptian state media said the IMF team would stay for several days.
“We will attend many meetings with the Egyptian government today. The technical team will come later. All details will be discussed in these meetings today,” Ahmed said after his meeting with Kandil. He was due to meet President Mohamed Mursi later.
The pound has lost more than 4 percent of its dollar value since Dec. 30, when the central bank introduced a new system for selling foreign currency to try to stem the fall in foreign reserves.
The pound last traded at 6.45 pounds to the dollar on Sunday . Markets were closed on Monday for a public holiday marking Coptic Christmas. The currency has now lost more than a tenth of its value in the two years since a popular uprising swept Hosni Mubarak from power in February, 2011.
Trying to revive an economy pummelled by a turbulent political transition, the Islamist-led government struck an initial agreement on the IMF Stand-By Arrangement in November.
But last month, Cairo postponed formal conclusion of the deal because of new political confrontations and street protests ignited by Mursi’s drive to fast-track a new, Islamist-oriented constitution that was approved in a popular referendum.
Confronted by lethal street violence at the time, Mursi postponed planned tax increases seen as part of a package of austerity measures needed to secure the IMF loan.
With parliamentary elections approaching, Mursi has seemed wary of any action that could undermine the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled him to power in a June vote.
Kandil said on Sunday the government would seek to reassure the IMF about the government’s economic plans and the economy’s capacity for recovery.
Finance Minister AL-Mursi Al-Sayed Hegazy, who was sworn in on Sunday as part of a cabinet reshuffle, said he was ready to complete discussions on the IMF loan.
Having spent some $20 billion defending the pound since Mubarak’s fall, the central bank introduced the new system for auctioning foreign currency to preserve what it described as critically low foreign currency reserves.
The central bank said on Sunday its foreign reserves had inched down $21 million in December to $15.015 billion. Economists had expected a steeper fall.


Saudi Arabia has lion’s share of regional philanthropy

Updated 27 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia has lion’s share of regional philanthropy

  • Kingdom is home to three quarters of region's foundations
  • Combined asets of global foundations is $1.5 trillion

Nearly three quarters of philanthropic foundations in the Middle East are concentrated in Saudi Arabia, according to a new report.

The study, conducted by researchers at Harvard Kennedy School’s Hauser Institute with funding from Swiss bank UBS, also found that resources were highly concentrated in certain areas with education the most popular area for investment globally.

That trend was best illustrated in the Kingdom, where education ranked first among the target areas of local foundations.

While the combined assets of the world’s foundations are estimated at close to $1.5 trillion, half have no paid staff and small budgets of under $1 million. In fact, 90 percent of identified foundations have assets of less than $10 million, according to the Global Philanthropy Report. 

Developed over three years with inputs from twenty research teams across nineteen countries and Hong Kong, the report highlights the magnitude of global philanthropic investment.

A rapidly growing number of philanthropists are establishing foundations and institutions to focus, practice, and amplify these investments, said the report.
In recent years, philanthropy has witnessed a major shift. Wealthy individuals, families, and corporations are looking to give more, to give more strategically, and to increase the impact of their social investments.

Organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have become increasingly high profile — but at the same time, some governments, including India and China, have sought to limit the spread of cross-border philanthropy in certain sectors.

As the world is falling well short of raising the $ 5-7 trillion of annual investment needed to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UBS sees the report findings as a call for philanthropists to work together to scale their impact.
 

Understanding this need for collaboration, UBS has established a global community where philanthropists can work together to drive sustainable impact.

Established in 2015 and with over 400 members, the Global Philanthropists Community hosted by UBS is the world’s largest private network exclusively for philanthropists and social investors, facilitating collaboration and sharing of best practices.

Josef Stadler, head of ultra high net worth wealth, UBS Global Management, said: “This report takes a much-needed step toward understanding global philanthropy so that, collectively, we might shape a more strategic and collaborative future, with philanthropists leading the way toward solving the great challenges of our time.”

This week Saudi Arabia said it would provide an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid in Syria, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

The UAE also this week said it had contributed $192 million to a housing project in Afghanistan through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.