Egypt pound reaches record lows amid a dollar shortage

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The Egyptian pound has dropped to record lows in the past week in the black market, hovering between 9 and 9.25 per dollar, as importers struggle to find dollars for their operations and pressure mounts on the central bank to devalue the pound.

A banking source also said the central bank has this week directed local banks to prioritize giving dollars to pharmaceutical companies to import medicine and supplies.

"They have been delayed for a while, like everyone else is, but they definitely should have the priority," said Hany Farahat, a senior economist at CI Capital in Egypt.

Net international reserves have remained around $16.5 billion in recent months, following declines from $36 billion in December 2010, a month before the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.