WASHINGTON Dec 31 The International Monetary
Fund said on Monday it welcomed steps that Egypt has taken to
stop a drain on its international reserves, which had let the
Egyptian pound hit record lows.
"We welcome the measures taken by the Central Bank of Egypt
to ensure that the country will continue to maintain a level of
international reserves that can support its international trade
and payments," an IMF spokeswoman said. "IMF staff is in close
contact with the authorities and we remain strongly committed to
Egypt, which has spent more than $20 billion over the past
two years to defend the pound, imposed a new currency
regime on Saturday that includes regular foreign currency
auctions. The pound hit record lows in auctions on both Sunday
and Monday in what appeared to be an effort to achieve an
The IMF's stamp of approval is important because Egypt is
hoping to secure a $4.8 billion loan from the lender.
It won preliminary approval for the loan in November, but
delayed seeking final approval until January to buy time to
explain a heavily criticized package of economic austerity
measures to the public.