CAIRO May 28 (Reuters) – Egypt’s economy grew 4.5 percent in the first half of 2015/2016, down from 5.5 percent growth in the previous year, the planning minister said on Saturday.
Total GDP for first half of fiscal year 2015/2016, which began in July, was 1.4 trillion Egyptian pounds ($158 billion) in the first half compared with 1.275 trillion pounds in the same period last year, minister Ashraf al-Arabi told a news conference.
Second quarter growth for 2015/2016 was 3.8 percent, down from 4.3 percent a year earlier.
Al-Arabi said that his government is targeting less than 4.5 percent growth in second half of the current fiscal year and a total of 4.4 percent of 2016, due to militant attacks that hit the tourism industry and other problems that had affected the economy.
A series of setbacks including the crash of an EgyptAir flight into the Mediterranean last week have affected Egypt’s ailing economy.
Egypt’s tourism industry, a cornerstone of the economy and a critical source of hard currency, has struggled to rebound since the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule ushered in a period of political and economic upheaval.
Al-Arabi said Egypt was targetting 5.2 percent growth in 2016-2017 and 5 percent in the following year. The government is also targeting a budget deficit of 9.8 percent for 2016-2017 and 9 percent for 2017-2018.
Egypt has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent months, straining the tourism sector and the economy as a whole.
The number of tourists fell 40 percent in the first quarter of 2016 compared to last year due in large part to the suspected bombing of a Russian plane carrying 224 people from a Red Sea resort in late October. Islamic State said it had smuggled a bomb aboard.
In March, a man wearing a fake suicide belt hijacked an EgyptAir plane and diverted it to Cyprus.
More than 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010, dropping to 9.8 million in 2011. Last month, Rashed told Reuters the country hoped to attract 12 million tourists back by the end of 2017, with a six-point plan.
($1 = 8.8799 Egyptian pounds.)