CAIRO: Egypt aims to cut its budget deficit to 3.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2015 and raise the growth rate by that time to 8.5 percent, the finance minister said in remarks published by newspapers on Sunday.
Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali has previously said he expected the deficit in the financial year 2010/11 to be 7.9 percent. Growth in fiscal 2009/10, which runs to June 30, is forecast at 5.3 percent, rising to 6 percent in 2010/11.
The economy was growing at more than 7 percent before the world financial crisis but, even during the downturn, Egypt maintained growth close to 5 percent.
Commenting on the minister’s targets, investment bank Beltone Financial said in a note:
"We do expect the government to be able to achieve its budget target, with maybe a delay of a year or two from its targeted date, depending on the pace with which it implements its fiscal reforms, especially those related to tax, pension and subsidy restructuring."
Boutros-Ghali said the target was for growth of 7.55 percent in 2013, 8.1 percent in 2014 and 8.5 percent in 2015, the state-owned daily Al-Ahram quoted him as saying.
Tax revenues would rise from LE 163.2 billion ($28.9 billion) in the financial year 2008/9 to LE 408 billion in 2015, the minister was quoted by the business daily Al-Alam Al-Youm as saying.
Total revenues would rise to LE 525 billion in 2015, from LE 282.5 billion in the financial year 2008/9, the business daily said.
The minister said reforms included starting to convert a sales tax into a value added tax, the daily added.
Boutros-Ghali said he aimed to cut government debt to between 44 percent and 51 percent of gross domestic product in 2015, down from 80.2 percent, the paper said.