February 3, 2011 / 4:00 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Egypt banks to allow transfers, limit cash withdrawals

* Only selected branches in main cities to open initially

* Opening hours to be limited

* Deputy governor dismisses concerns EGP might fall sharply

(Adds details, quotes)

By Patrick Werr

CAIRO, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Egypt’s central bank said it would would limit cash withdrawals by individuals but allow unlimited transfers abroad when banks reopen on Sunday after a week-long closure caused by the country’s political protests.

Deputy Governor Hisham Ramez said the central bank’s $36 billion in reserves were adequate to cover withdrawals and transfers.

“There is no problem. We will be able to honour all transactions,” he said by telephone on Thursday.

Ramez dismissed concerns that the pound might weaken sharply.

“This is not true. We don’t comment on currency matters, but this will not happen,” he said.

Only selected branches in Cairo and major provincial cities would be open and the operating hours will be restricted to between 10:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. local time, he said.

The remaining branches and currency exchange shops would reopen gradually as soon as possible.

Individuals will be limited to daily withdrawals of 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($8,537) and $10,000 worth of foreign currency, whatever the denomination, but would be able to transfer as much as they want from their bank accounts.

Cash withdrawals and transfers by companies will not be restricted at all, and there will no limits for anyone on transfers abroad, he said.

The interbank lending market will also reopen without restrictions, Ramez said.

The names of the bank branches reopening on Sunday will be published in local newspapers. (Reporting by by Patrick Werr; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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