Ramez said the bank’s number one priority was overseeing a “balanced” currency market and that the central bank “has all the tools needed to intervene.”
He said “there is no reason to worry” about price movements on Egyptian pound which has lost nearly 6% of its dollar value in the past two weeks. “The situation is not out of control.”
Outgoing governor Farouk el-Okdah, who is stepping down after nearly a decade at the helm, denied his resignation was related to the recent devaluation of the Egyptian pound.
“The last thing I am worried about is the exchange rate of the pound,” el-Okdah said, giving examples from recent history when the pound dropped in value but then recovered. “What’s most important is that we have a stable currency market, prices can go up and down, that’s normal, what matters is that there is stable currency market.”
In a rare reference to politics, el-Okdah said Egypt’s economic problems required political solutions and that consensus and reconciliation were essential to tackling the economic woes.
“The economy mirrors the political situation,” el-Okda said. “For the economy to move forward, the political situation must also move forward.”
The new face
The appointment of Ramez, a veteran banker, to the top job at the bank ends weeks of speculation over who would lead Egypt's central bank at a time of economic crisis.
Ramez, who will officially take over on Feb. 3 previously served as deputy governor for four years from 2008 to 2011 and worked closely with the central bank when he headed the Suez Canal bank. Most recently he headed Egypt’s private sector Commercial International Bank (CIB). Under the new constitution, Ramez can serve a total of two four-year terms.
He is considered one of the top experts on exchange rate policy in Egypt and his appointment is seen as a positive for investors. But he faces a number of challenges, chief among them stabilizing the currency market and his statements on the exchange rate mark a clear shift in bank policy according to experts.