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Egypt's new central bank head seen as a win for big business

Predecessor Hisham Ramez reportedly faced increasing criticism for his reluctance to devalue the Egyptian pound
Former head of Egypt's central bank Hisham Ramez in Cairo on 10 January 2013 (AFP)

The appointment this week of Tarek Amer as governor of Egypt's central bank is reportedly seen as a move to appease businessmen and bankers in conflict with his predecessor, Hisham Ramez.

Ramez, whose term as head of Egypt's central bank officially ends 26 November, had faced increasing criticism after refusing to devalue the Egyptian pound, reported Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on Friday. 

Ramez had instead imposed measures that reportedly angered local businesses that complainied of a lack of foreign currency to pay for imports.

Egypt's foreign exchange reserves have decreased to $16.3bn in September from $36bn in 2011, reported Al-Araby. 

"Over the past few months, infighting between Ramez and several ministers escalated over his management of monetary policies towards reducing debt and tackling inflation and high prices," an Egyptian official reportedly told al-Araby'. 

"His policies were constantly embarrassing the government in front of public opinion because they persistently raised prices and devalued the Egyptian pound against the US dollar," the official was quoted as saying. 

Ramez reportedly came under fire after blaming the fall in foreign-exchange reserves on the new new Suez Canal project, which is thought to have cost $8bn.

The appointment of Amer - who is expected to issue a decree to scrap his predecessor's policies -  is reportedly a big win for business tycoons.

He has worked in many prestigious banks and was deputy central bank governor. He is also a former colleague of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal, and came to prominence during the final years of Mubarak's rule.

Egypt is struggling to return to the growth enjoyed before the 2011 uprising discouraged foreign investors and tourists.

Last week, Egypt's minister of social solidarity said the state would not be able to distribute $6.8 million worth of pensions because of the current currency crisis. 

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