IMF mission in Cairo for talks on boosting economy

An Egyptian woman walks past an exchange store in the capital Cairo on January 6, 2013.  By Khaled Desouki (AFP/File)

An Egyptian woman walks past an exchange store in the capital Cairo on January 6, 2013. By Khaled Desouki (AFP/File)






CAIRO (AFP) – An International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for talks on a financing programme needed to lift Egypt’s economy out of crisis.

The delegation is expected to examine Egypt’s efforts at economic reform.

The government has been walking a tight rope, as the reforms required by the international lender are likely to spark social tensions.

The size of the $4.8 billion loan may change, IMF officials said, without elaborating.

“We expect the amount to be modified based on Egypt’s demand,” the official MENA news agency quoted an Egyptian official as saying ahead of the talks.

IMF Middle East director Masood Ahmed said on Tuesday it was a matter “of needs and what’s required,” on the sidelines of a meeting of regional finance ministers in Dubai.

Egypt’s Finance Minister Al-Morsi Hegazi, who attended the Dubai talks, said negotiations with the IMF should be concluded by the end of April.

Authorities believe the loan will help restore investor confidence in Egypt where unrest that accompanied the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak caused a significant drop in revenue from the once-lucrative tourism industry.

Foreign reserves have plunged from $36 billion to $13 billion in two years, and the budget deficit is increasing.

President Mohamed Morsi’s administration has been plagued by unrest and deadly clashes between protesters and police, blocking efforts to build broad-based support for a needed programme of economic reform.


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