UPDATE 4-Egypt’s banks told to limit withdrawals and deposits

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CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian banks have been instructed to apply temporary limits on daily withdrawals and deposits in a move seemingly designed to control inflation and hoarding during the coronavirus’ spread.

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask withdraws money from an ATM at the Al Shohadaa “Martyrs” metro station as Egypt ramps up efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease COVID-19 in Cairo, Egypt, March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo

The daily limit for individuals would be 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($635) and 50,000 pounds for companies, a central bank statement said, though businesses will be exempt from the withdrawal limits if the money is used to pay employees.

The central bank has also limited daily ATM withdrawals and deposits to 5,000 pounds, it said in a statement.

“Not official, but I heard (it was designed) to control hoarding and inflation,” said one analyst who asked not to be named.

“This could reduce hoarding and panic buying and contain prices,” a second analyst said.

The central bank has also urged people to limit their use of banknotes and to rely on electronic transfers and e-payments.

“All banks canceled fees on transfers and e-payment methods for the citizens’ convenience,” the statement added.

Egypt reported 33 new coronavirus cases and four fatalities on Sunday, bringing the totals to 609 confirmed infections and 40 deaths.

Egypt ordered mosques to shut their doors to worshippers for two weeks from March 21.

The Ministry of Islamic Endowments said on Sunday that it would extend the closure indefinitely.

Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy; Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Nick Macfie and David Goodman

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