CAIRO, March 5 Egypt has invited the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) to visit and reopen loan
negotiations, a government minister said on Tuesday, a step seen
as crucial to ease an economic crisis stemming from two years of
Egypt and the IMF agreed the $4.8 billion loan in principle
as long ago as November but the following month Cairo requested
a delay as a wave of protests swept the country.
IMF support is vital for the North African country where
foreign currency reserves have depleted to critically low levels
and the budget deficit has soared.
The invitation was sent after the government submitted a
revised programme aimed at reducing the budget deficit to less
than 11 percent of gross domestic product by the fiscal year
2013-2014, Planning and International Cooperation Minister
Ashraf al-Araby told reporters during a visit to Iraq.
Egypt's finance minister said on Sunday that he expected a
deal with the IMF would be sealed before parliamentary elections
start next month, a timetable economists say is ambitious.