UPDATE 1-Egypt central bank earmarks $1.44 bln for low-cost housing

Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:34pm EST

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CAIRO Feb 18 (Reuters) - Egypt's central bank said on Tuesday it would allocate 10 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.44 billion) for low-cost housing projects, one of the demands in protests that led to the ouster of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Better living conditions, an end to official corruption and more democratic rights figured prominently in those protests. About half of Egypt's 85 million people live under the poverty line, many in slums with no access to clean water or sewage.

Mubarak's ouster drove the state into a deeper economic and political crisis. Last July, the army ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who was elected in 2012, after protests against his rule that failed to enact economic reforms.

The three-year turmoil led to a sharp fall in foreign reserves and currency value.

The central bank said its investment in low-cost housing should have a positive effect on the state's economic growth and social development.

The money will be deposited to banks for 20 years at a low interest rate to lend it to citizens who qualify to buy houses at a yearly interest rate of 7-8 percent. Inflation is currently running over 11 percent.

($1 = 6.9611 Egyptian pounds) (Reporting by Ehab Farouk and Shadia Nasralla; Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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