* GASC'S Nomani: "I do not have financial problems."
* Traders note much slower buying activity year-on-year
* Currency crisis eyed as oil supply troubles intensify
By Shaimaa Fayed
CAIRO, Jan 29 Egypt's state wheat buyer said on
Tuesday that it would meet the debt-laden country's needs and
did not have financial problems, adding there were enough stocks
to last until June 22.
Egypt is facing increasing economic and political
instability, with the pound having lost more than a tenth of its
value since the 2011 revolution.
Egypt's army chief said political unrest was pushing the
state to the brink of collapse.
Many Egyptians depend on the subsidised saucer-sized flat
loaves selling for just 5 piastres (less than 1 U.S. cent) and
any disruption to subsidised bread supplies could provoke
International grain traders said normally brisk buying was
markedly slower but Nomani Nomani, vice chairman of the General
Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), said state wheat stocks
of the world's top importer of the grain had been enhanced since
early January when they were expected to last until June 17.
"Providing the country's needs, the Egyptian citizens'
needs, is a red line," he told Reuters. "I do not have financial
GASC has purchased two cargoes or 115,000 tonnes of wheat
this month for shipment Feb. 20-28. [ID: nL5E9CACCR], but that
is less than half of purchases made in January 2012 totalling
420,000 tonnes. [ID: nL6E8CD2L6] [ID: nL6E8C61UJ]
"They're one month behind and it's significantly less
tonnage this January compared with last January," a European
Egypt's currency crisis has intensified its oil supply
troubles, as the weaker pound makes it more difficult for
cash-strapped Cairo to buy vital crude for its refineries. The
state oil company has found it increasingly difficult to procure
letters of credit for transactions and costs are rocketing.
Grain traders were concerned that the problem could spread
to the state wheat buyer.
"The currency is very weak and you see how much their
(money) reserves have come down," said a European trader.
However, Nomani said of GASC's last wheat purchase: "The
Egyptian finance ministry provided me with dollar guarantees at
the central bank to finance the last tender."
The International Grains Council estimates the country will
import 10 million tonnes this season compared with 11.7 million