CAIRO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - National Bank of Egypt (NBE), the country’s largest state bank, has financed about $5 billion worth of imports since the Egyptian pound was floated in November, Deputy Chairman Yehia Aboul Fotouh said on Thursday.
“We have no suspended import operations,” he told Reuters. “The bank gathered some $2.8 billion given up by individuals from the liberalisation of the exchange rate until now.”
Before the pound was floated on Nov. 3, Egypt’s banking system suffered from a shortage of dollars. Only importers of a limited number of essential commodities could get foreign currency from the banks.
They were forced to turn to a black market that burgeoned under the fixed exchange rate, paying sometimes twice the official rate for dollars. The flotation has tempered the black market and revived foreign currency flows via the banks.
Reporting by Afaf Ammar, Writing by Lin Noueihed, editing by Larry King