Egypt's Suez canal reports record high $5.585 billion annual revenue

FILE PHOTO - People sail on a boat near a container ship crossing the Gulf of Suez towards the Red Sea before entering the Suez Canal, near El Ain El Sokhna in Suez, east of Cairo, Egypt, March 17, 2018. Picture taken March 17, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s revenue from the Suez Canal for the 2017-2018 financial year rose 11.5 percent to a record high $5.585 billion (4.20 billion pounds), the canal authority said in a statement on its website on Sunday.

Revenue a year earlier was $5.008 billion, it said.

The financial year has not yet finished, however. Egypt’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to the end of June.

The canal authority did not explain why it had released figures ahead of the end of the fiscal year.

It announced on Saturday increased revenue in May, and predicted a record yearly figure, attributing this to increased international trade and improvements in the shipping industry.

Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi invested in an expansion of the Suez Canal which began in 2014, one of the former military commander’s mega-projects designed to revive an ailing economy and restore the country’s place as an important trade hub.

Egypt’s finances were hit badly by unrest that followed a 2011 popular uprising which toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

Critics have slammed some projects, including the Suez expansion, as a waste of money.

Cairo is also imposing a raft of harsh austerity measures tied to a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which some economists say are helping get the economy back on track, but which have hit ordinary Egyptians hard.

Reporting by Ahmed Elhamy and John Davison; editing by Jason Neely