Egypt's flagship state newspaper is quoting the country's parliament speaker as saying that illegal currency dealers should be executed.

Ali Abdel-Al's call for capital punishment came after lawmakers voted on Tuesday to toughen fines and prison terms for illegal trading in foreign currency. His remarks were published in Al-Ahram's Wednesday edition.

Offenders will now face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 5 million pounds ($570,000).

He justified his wish to see capital punishment introduced for foreign currency offences by saying that Egypt has been subjected to an "economic war" and a "conspiracy" that must be decisively confronted.

Egypt, which is heavily dependent on imports, is facing an acute foreign currency shortage.