Egypt’s prime minister said his government has committed to pay what amounts to 24 percent of the total arrears it owes foreign oil companies in a bid to restore investor confidence in an economy damaged by nearly three years of unrest.
Hazem el-Beblawi was speaking Wednesday at an investors’ forum that brought to Cairo businessmen and officials from the Gulf countries. El-Beblawi said his government approved settling $1.5 billion it owed to foreign oil firms. Petroleum ministry spokesman Hamdy Abdel-Aziz said the latest figure for money owed to oil companies stood at $6.2 billion.
El-Beblawi also urged investors to show patience with unrest-hit Egypt. He added that the government is on track to restore political and economic stability, and has realized a “milestone” by completing amendments to the country’s constitution.
Egypt has been in constant turmoil since former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a popular uprising in February 2011. The country was unable to attain stability even after the election of Mohammed Morsi, its first freely elected president in June 2012.
Morsi and the Egyptian parliament, controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, managed to pass a new constitution by popular referendum, but came under fire for shutting out secularists and failing to improve the country’s economy and were ousted by a military-backed coup in July of this year after massive protests against calling for Morsi to step down.
Since the coup, the military has been embroiled in conflicts with Morsi supporters as well as Sinai-based Islamist militants.