CAIRO, March 13 (Reuters) - Egypt’s central bank has covered 50 percent of a backlog of dollars owed to foreign investors seeking to repatriate funds from the country, it said in a statement on Thursday.
A repatriation scheme opened in March last year and aimed at restoring confidence in Egypt’s economy guarantees foreign investors in Egypt’s stock and government bond markets access to dollars despite severe shortages of foreign currency.
“(The central bank) covered 50 percent of foreign investors’ pending backlogs ... today by direct sales to the investors’ custodians,” the central bank said in a statement.
“The remaining backlog will also be covered by the Central Bank of Egypt in the near future.”
The bank said backlogs had accumulated because foreign investors had refrained from using the central bank’s repatriation mechanism. It did not say how much money was waiting to leave the country, where three years of political instability has driven tourists and foreign investors away.
Foreign reserves fell to a critical low of $13.5 billion last year, down from $36 billion before the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The central bank has been rationing dollars through routine auctions to commercial banks to slow the slide in the pound.
Egypt is pushing through with a road map for political transition that calls for presidential and parliamentary elections this year following the army’s removal of elected president Mohamed Mursi following protests against his rule. (Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Catherine Evans)