Five-year plan targets $210.5 billion of investments

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CAIRO: The Minister of Economic Development Osman Mohammad Osman said the investment target of the government s new five-year plan (2007-2012) amounts to LE 1,200 billion of which the private sector contributes 60 percent of the total with LE 720 billion.

His comments were made during a seminar convened Monday evening with the Minister of Investment, the Minister of Trade and Industry and representatives of civil society organizations.

The new plan targets an average of 8 percent for annual growth rates, which could increase to 9 per cent by the end of five years, Osman said. Inflation should retreat by 4 or 5 percentage points every year, and the target for unemployment slashes the rate to 5 percent from 9 percent of the workforce, through creation of 750,000 new jobs a year.

The Minister of Economic Development said the five-year plan target for total GDP is LE 1,350 billion compared with the present LE 700 billion. The plan also expects foreign currency reserves to increase to $42 billion compared with a current of $26 billion.

The increased target for foreign currency reserves prompted criticism from Hanaa Kheir-El-Din, the executive director of the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies. She argued that accumulation of foreign currency reserves would mean to maintain a surplus in the current account at a time when the economy needs more investments and resources.

The Minister of Economic Development added that the government is opening up new opportunities for the private sector through partnership schemes, such as the Public Private Partnership and long-term concessions and leasing.

He explained that the five-year plan offers to the private sector investment opportunities in 1,000 large-scale plants and 2000 mid-size plants in addition to land reclamation and tourism development schemes.

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