$142bn shot uplifts El-Sissi

Updated 24 March 2015

$142bn shot uplifts El-Sissi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi on Sunday boisterously marked the final day of a major economic conference that has injected billions of dollars' worth of aid and investment in his country, while still acknowledging that Egypt's road to recovery will be long and costly.
Egyptian Investment Minister Ashraf Salman said the three-day event was instrumental in mobilizing funds worth $142 billion required for the country’s fast economic recovery.
“The final investment and financial agreements reached during the conference have amounted to $33 billion while MoUs have amounted to $92 billion,” he said. Total aid and grants reached $17 billion including $12.5 billion from four GCC states and $5 billion from European countries.
Crown Prince Muqrin, deputy premier, who led the Kingdom’s delegation to the conference, held talks with El-Sissi before returning to Riyadh.
He conveyed the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to El-Sissi and congratulated him on the conference’s success. He also wished greater progress and prosperity to Egypt and its people.
Prince Muqrin and El-Sissi discussed major regional and international developments and prospects of expanding cooperation between the two countries. El-Sissi commended King Salman’s stances in support of Egypt.
A jubilant El-Sissi invited young Egyptian organizers to join him at the podium before he addressed a packed auditorium at the Sinai resort. Several seized the opportunity to take selfies with the Egyptian leader and joined him in what has become his customary slogan of “Long live Egypt!”
But the president swiftly stopped a chant of ‘long live El-Sissi.’
“Long live Egypt and no one else,” said El-Sissi, who in the 35-minute address let out several hearty laughs and joked about how he drove hard bargains with top multinational executives to reduce prices, deliver ahead of schedule and allow longer grace periods for loan repayments.
Earlier, addressing the delegates seated in the massive conference hall, El-Sissi said: "You have no idea how much joy you have given the people of Egypt."
El-Sissi has staked his legitimacy on fixing the economy and restoring security, and the three-day conference has been seeking a sign of international confidence in the country's political stability.
"Some people thought my country has died, but Egypt is a country that God created so it can forever live," El-Sissi said. "Egypt was there 7,000 years ago and taught the entire world."
"This nation is awakening now," he declared.
The president said he would not wait around if Egyptians demanded new change in leadership in the country. “Egyptians are able to make changes … If the Egyptian people wanted to change (their leader) again they will but I will not wait for that moment,” he told the delegates.
El-Sissi said Egypt needed as much as $300 billion in investments to rebuild and give the country's 90 million people a genuine hope to live well.
"Loving Egypt cannot just be words," he warned. "We are behind, and those who are late must either speed walk or run," he said. "Even running will not be enough in our case."
The three-day gathering is meant to show the world Egypt is open for business again, and to draw investors scared off by four years of instability and turmoil that followed the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
Investors committed $10.7 billion to projects on Saturday, a day after Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries announced a $12.5 billion aid package, continuing the largesse they have shown Egypt since ouster of Muhammad Mursi.
The agreements include a $6.5 billion deal with Egypt's Orascom group and the Abu Dhabi-owned International Petroleum Investment Co. to build a coal-fired power plant over four years, organizers said in a statement. The deals were signed a day earlier.
Of Saturday's agreements, Cairo Financial Holding, formerly led by Investment Minister Ashraf Salman, had the second-largest investment — $1 billion into a tourism fund.
Preliminary engineering and finance agreements amounting to $5.8 billion were also signed, along with a further $5.4 billion in loans and grants from international partners and organizations.

Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

Updated 19 November 2019

Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

  • Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities

BEIRUT: Banks in Lebanon will reopen on Tuesday after the Association of Banks in Lebanon approved measures to ease the anger of depositors and customers. 

More than 3,000 members of Beirut’s police, the regional gendarmerie, the judicial police, and the information division of the Internal Security Forces will provide protection to banks and their employees, who carried out an open strike for a week.

They did so due to customers’ anger over measures applied by banks on withdrawals and transfers amid Lebanon’s severe political and economic crisis, which sparked mass protests that have been ongoing for 33 days.

Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon decided on Sunday to “stop restrictions on new funds transferred from abroad, provided that remittances abroad only cover urgent personal expenses.”

It also decided to lift restrictions on the circulation of checks, transfers, and the use of credit cards in Lebanon. 

As for the use of credit cards abroad, ceilings are determined by agreements between banks and customers.

The association has determined a maximum cash withdrawal rate of $1,000 per week for holders of current accounts in dollars, while checks issued in foreign currencies will be transferred into their account.

It has also urged customers to “use their credit cards, especially in Lebanese pounds, to buy their needs.”

Meanwhile, protesters are preparing to block roads leading to Parliament in the heart of Beirut on Tuesday, to prevent a legislative session from taking place. The session had already been postponed for a week.

In an attempt to placate protesters, the presidential palace’s media office said the president has ordered investigations into “financial crimes, waste, forgery, money laundering and suspicious transactions,” as well as “negligence at work, promotion of counterfeit medicines and suspicious reconciliation contracts.”