As of Thursday, Egyptian citizens purchased 39 billion Egyptian liras ($5.5 billion) worth of Suez Canal investment certificates in six working days, amounting to better than half of the funds the government was seeking for a project to enlarge the Suez Canal, Al Ahram reported.
The certificates were initially issued on September 4, to be sold only to Egyptians.
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Many were picked up by Egyptian banks, out of a patriotic sense of duty, Ahram reported. “This is for the country; the return on LE100 is not so important, ” Fatma El-Sayed, a maid who was waiting her turn to buy certificates at Bank Misr, told the newspaper.
“I did not think a lot about the interest rate and have no intention to withdraw the money before their maturity, ” said Sayed Nashat, who was waiting in line to buy LE5, 000 worth certificates at National Bank of Egypt.
Except it turns out those certificates are financially attractive as well, with an annual interest rate of 12 percent, highest on the legitimate market.
According central bank governor Hesham Ramez, 90 percent of the funds raised came from rank and file Egyptians, with only 10 percent coming from institutions
“I’ll buy certificates for LE100, 000 from my premium end of service that I had in a savings account with an interest rate of 6 percent. It is a good investment; the money was sitting unused, ” a former oil company employee told Al Ahram.
The certificates are guaranteed by Egypt’s finance ministry and the central bank.
In view of the great demand, the central bank governor decided to extend his staff’s working hours until 6 PM, at least for the first two weeks of the sale.
Only the National Bank of Egypt, Bank Misr, Cairo and the Suez Canal banks are authorized to issue certificates, but private banks can buy them for their own clients.
The government is looking to collect $8.4 billion, to finance the digging of the Suez Canal expansion, as well as six tunnels linking the east and west banks of the canal.