UPDATE 1-Egypt PM expects IMF visit this month

Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:23am EST

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* Says economic reforms revised; seen as key to aid

* Sees end to unrest as even more vital than funding

CAIRO Feb 14 (Reuters) - Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said on Thursday he expected an International Monetary Fund team to visit this month for talks on a loan agreement seen as vital to supporting the country's economy.

Asked when the IMF mission would return to resume stalled talks on the $4.8 billion loan, Kandil said: "Within this month, God willing."

Egypt concluded an initial agreement for the loan in November but in December postponed ratification because of political unrest.

The Egyptian government has repeatedly said the IMF delegation would return soon to finalise a deal.

Kandil said in an interview broadcast late on Wednesday that the government had finished revising a programme of economic reforms seen as vital to securing the loan.

Many economists believe the government could postpone ratification of an IMF deal until parliamentary elections expected to get under way in April or May to delay austerity measures that could hit the popularity of the ruling Islamists.

The IMF accord is seen as vital to propping up the state's battered finances. Ratification would also unlock billions of dollars of further aid from foreign states, economists say.

Ratings agency Moody's cited uncertainty about the government's ability to secure the loan as one reason for cutting Egypt's credit rating on Tuesday.

"What we need desperately, even more than financing is for the streets to calm down and for some patience and hard work from the citizens," Kandil said.

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