North Africa

Algeria plans to develop bond, stock markets to ease financial pressure

Algeria plans to issue sukuk, or Islamic bonds, and develop its small stock exchange as the oil-reliant economy seeks to diversify funding sources, according to a government document reviewed by Reuters.

The planned steps are part of wider reforms aimed at coping with financial pressure caused by a fall in energy earnings and foreign exchange reserves, deepening the country’s budget and trade deficits.

Elected in December, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has pledged economic and political reforms to try to appease protests demanding the departure of the entire ruling elite.

Economic reforms include “encouraging banks to diversify funding sources by developing the bond market and attracting money from the informal market,” the government said in the document.

It will present this and other plans to the parliament on Tuesday, the document showed.

The plan will also focus on “alternative funding such as sukuk … and developing the stock market to allow it to play a greater role in financing firms,” the government said in the document.

Despite previous attempts to boost its activity, the Algiers bourse is still one of the world’s smallest, with a low capitalisation compared with neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia.

Algeria has also failed so far to attract to the banking system billions of dinars in the informal market.

Official figures showed oil and gas revenue reached $30.25 billion in the first 11 months of 2019, a 14.65% drop from the same period a year earlier, while foreign exchange reserves fell by $10.6 billion in the last nine months.

The government has already approved spending cuts for this year but kept unchanged sensitive subsidies for products including basic foodstuffs, fuel, and medicine to avoid social unrest.

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