Egypt’s September inflation of 3.7% could trigger IMF consultation

Egypt’s September inflation of 3.7% could trigger IMF consultation
Inflation soared to a peak of 33.0 percent in July 2017 after Egypt implemented IMF austerity measures. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 10 October 2020

Egypt’s September inflation of 3.7% could trigger IMF consultation

Egypt’s September inflation of 3.7% could trigger IMF consultation
  • Egypt earlier committed to consult an IMF technical team if year-on-year inflation fell below 6 percent by the end of September

CAIRO: Egypt’s headline inflation came in at under 4 percent in September, potentially triggering consultations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that could lead to lower interest rates.
Under a one-year, $5.2 billion loan agreement signed in June, Egypt committed to consult an IMF technical team if year-on-year inflation fell below 6 percent by the end of September and the IMF board itself if it fell below 4 percent.
In September, annual urban consumer price inflation edged up to 3.7 percent from 3.4 percent in August, the country’s statistics agency CAPMAS said on Saturday.
The low inflation rate sharpens a dilemma for the central bank: whether to keep interest rates high to sell treasury bills and protect the currency, or lower them to encourage growth in an economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some economists have said that if inflation remains low, the IMF could argue the central bank’s monetary committee should consider lowering interest rates when it next meets on Nov. 12.
The slight increase in September inflation went against some analysts’ forecasts, who had expected the headline rate to be kept under pressure by lower food prices. However, CAPMAS said food costs increased by 0.3 percent month-on-month.
The August inflation rate was near the lowest since 2005.
Inflation soared to a peak of 33.0 percent in July 2017 after Egypt implemented IMF austerity measures including a fuel price hike, a 13 percent value-added tax and taxes on tobacco, while halving the value of the currency against the dollar.