Egypt says deficit not to exceed LE 144 bln

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By Reuters

CAIRO: Egypt’s finance minister denied a report published on Monday that the government had raised its budget deficit forecast for this fiscal year to LE 150 billion.

Recent reform measures taken by the government to get the deficit under control had succeeded, in a statement on his ministry’s website.

The size of the deficit was not expected to exceed LE 144 billion ($24 billion), and not 150 billion as mentioned by some media, he said.

The state MENA news agency quoted Deputy Finance Minister Abdul-Aziz Mohamed Tantawy on Monday as saying the government had raised its deficit forecast to LE 150 billion from an initial LE 134 billion.

“This is due to measures the government took to satisfy demands by labor groups and expenses related to elections,” MENA quoted Tantawy as telling Parliament’s Planning and Budget Committee.

Cairo is struggling to stave off a fiscal crisis following more than a year of political and economic turmoil and is seeking a $3.2 billion dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund.

The government made the lower forecast, which was equivalent to about 8.7 percent of gross domestic product, when it originally drew up its budget for the financial year that began on July 1, 2011.

Saeed in his statement said the ministry was closely watching government expenditures and was working to find new sources of revenue, including better collection of taxes.

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