CAIRO, March 19 Egypt's government expects to
sign a deal with the International Monetary Fund by the end of
June and to have received the first tranche of a $4.8 billion
loan by then, the planning minister told Al-Ahram online on
More than two years of political upheaval have battered the
economy, leaving Egypt in dire need of IMF funds to relieve a
currency and budget crisis. The country's reserves of foreign
currency have fallen to critically low levels.
Planning Minister Ashraf al-Araby did not say how big the
first tranche of the IMF loan would be. He expected an IMF
technical mission to arrive in Cairo in the coming days to
complete talks on the deal.
Araby also said discussions earlier this week with a senior
International Monetary Fund official did not deal with the idea
of an emergency IMF loan to tide the country over until a full
agreement can be concluded.
Masood Ahmed, director of the IMF's Middle East and Central
Asia department, held talks in Cairo on Sunday, saying
discussions would continue in the coming weeks with the aim of
reaching a deal on possible financial support.
An IMF deal will unlock billions of dollars in further
support for Egypt. Araby said this would include $1 billion from
the World Bank in the fiscal year that begins in July, as well
as half a billion dollars from the African Development Bank and
assistance from the European Union.
Egypt's reserves of foreign currency stood at $13.5 billion
at the end of February, below the $15 billion level needed to
cover three months of imports.
The government said last month it aimed to increase the
reserves to $19 billion by the end of June, though Araby said
the level might be less than that.