World Bank: Egypt always ‘committed’ to repay bank loans even in hardest times

When it comes to repay loans on time, Egypt has been always committed to pay the World Bank loans upon agreed schedule, Asad Alam, Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti, said on Thursday.

Even during hardest times throughout its history, Egypt has never made any late payments, and that is why World Bank has full confidence in the Egyptian economy and its ability to achieve good growth rates and meet its financial requirements, Alam added.

Alam made these remarks during his meeting with a number of Egyptian journalists accompanying the Doorknock Mission to Washington D.C. organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham).

Egypt enjoys complete freedom in diversifying its foreign financing sources in order to meet funding needs, the banking official stated.

The World Bank Group’s cooperation strategy with Egypt is focusing on three key elements; improving general management and governance system, supporting the private sector in order to create jobs, and boosting social inclusion, Allam stated.

The World Bank defines social inclusion as the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society.

Social inclusion aims to empower poor and marginalised people to take advantage of burgeoning global opportunities. It ensures that people have a voice in decisions which affect their lives and that they enjoy equal access to markets, services and political, social and physical spaces.

Alam further referred to some amendments to the World Bank’s credit policies. The bank targets more dynamic contribution to improve the Egyptian citizens’ living standards after a long-standing support for infrastructure projects by giving grants in form of credit facilities.

For instance, the World Bank has secured a US$400 million loan in support of Takaful and Karama (Solidarity and Dignity) a national targeted social safety net programme established by the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity.

Takaful targets poor families with children younger than 18 to send them to schools, while Karama targets the elderly and the disabled, so long as they cannot earn their living.

Moreover, Alam said World Bank plans to expand social inclusion to poor Egyptian families so as to make them enjoy equal access to suitable healthy, educational, and social life in the coming few years.

The bank has provided funds worth US$75 million for a project to improve the quality of the family health services system in Egypt’s 1000 poorest villages, in the Upper Egypt region.

Despite an improvement in Egyptians’ health during the past 20 years noted by the World Bank and represented in an increase in life expectancy from 64.5 years to 70.5 years, such an improvement was not achieved with equality.

In its paper titled “A Roadmap to Achieve Social Justice in Health Care in Egypt” released in 2015, the World Bank proposed to the Egyptian government a vision to reform the healthcare system and make it more just.

The current portfolio of the World Bank Group in Egypt is worth US$8 billion approximately, including US$6 billion for developmental projects and US$2 billion in investments between private sector and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Alam noted.

The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today endorsed on December 17 a new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) to support Egypt during a critical period of economic and social transformation.  The Board also approved a US$1 billion in a development policy finance operation for Egypt to help the country carry out key economic reforms.

During the financial year of 2015, the cooperation portfolio of the World Bank Group in Egypt had surged to 26 projects for a total commitment of US$5.4 billion, including 17 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) lending operations ($5.27 billion) and 9 major Trust Funds ($139.6 million).