CAIRO: Egypt’s 2019-20 budget is based on the average exchange rate set by the central bank between March 1 and March 15 this year, the finance ministry said on Thursday.

The pound’s average exchange rate to the dollar between March 1 and March 15 was 17.46, a finance ministry official said in response to a query from journalists.

On Wednesday the government approved the state budget for the fiscal year to June 2020, targeting a deficit of 7.2 per cent of gross domestic product, GDP growth of 6.1 per cent and a debt-to-GDP ratio of 89 per cent. However, it has not yet published its forecasts for the exchange rate and other details, and parliament still needs to approve the budget.

Two government sources told Reuters on Thursday that the government has allocated 52.8 billion Egyptian pounds (Dh11.39 billion; $3.1 billion) for fuel subsidies in the financial year beginning in July, down from 89 billion in the 2018/19 budget and has based the budget on an average oil price of $68 a barrel.

The two sources also said that the government will assume an exchange rate of 18.00 Egyptian pounds per US dollar in the 2019/20 financial year, but the finance ministry denied and then issued a statement saying it would be based on the March 1-15 average rate.

The draft budget aims to create 800,000 to 900,000 new work opportunities “through supporting the industrial and export sectors.”