* FX reserves rose to $17.3 bln in Feb
* Supported by money from Gulf states
* Still half levels seen before Mubarak's ouster
(Adds details on foreign investors' repatriation, background)
CAIRO, March 19 Egypt's Central Bank governor
Hisham Ramez said on Wednesday he expects the country's foreign
currency reserves to continue growing despite continued
political and economic turmoil.
The reserves, which plummeted after a 2011 uprising that
ousted President Hosni Mubarak, have picked up since last July
when Gulf Arab states extended billions of dollars to Egypt
after the army took over from elected Islamist President Mohamed
"The reserves will continue going up," Ramez told reporters
without providing details.
Reserves rose to $17.307 billion in February from $17.105
billion in January but are still nearly half the level seen
before Mubarak's departure as political turmoil has hit tourism
and foreign investment and the central bank has had to use up
reserves to defend the Egyptian pound.
A repatriation scheme opened in March last year aimed at
restoring confidence in Egypt's economy. It guarantees foreign
investors in Egypt's stock and government bond markets access to
dollars despite severe shortages of foreign currency.
The central bank said last week it covered 50 percent of a
backlog of dollars owed to foreign investors seeking to
repatriate funds from the country. Ramez said on Wednesday the
other 50 percent will be transferred next month.
Foreign reserves fell to a critical low of $13.5 billion
last year, down from $36 billion before the revolt that toppled
The central bank has been rationing dollars through routine
auctions to commercial banks to slow a slide in the local
Egypt is pushing through with a road map for political
transition that calls for presidential and parliamentary
elections this year following the army's ouster of Mursi after
protests against his rule.
(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Susan Fenton)