CAIRO, April 9 Egypt's prime minister was due in
Qatar on Tuesday for talks with his country's biggest Gulf Arab
financial backer as Cairo is negotiating for an IMF loan to hep
ease a deepening economic crisis.
Hisham Kandil was to fly to Doha after attending the
swearing in of Kenya's new president in Nairobi, his office
said. He is due to hold a joint news conference with Qatari
Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani on Wednesday.
Qatar has provided Egypt with $5 billion in loans and grants
since Islamist President Mohamed Mursi was elected last year and
diplomats said Cairo was seeking further support as it faces a
long, hot summer of power cuts and fuel shortages with or
without a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.
Qatar has been propping up Cairo's sagging foreign currency
reserves - which hit a new low of $13.4 billion in March, less
than the cost of three months' imports - by making deposits in
the Egyptian central bank.
Kandil's visit follows three days of preparatory meetings by
Egyptian central bank governor Hisham Ramez in Qatar, amid
tension between Cairo and its major donor over two financial
disputes, of which Egypt moved to defuse one on Monday.
Egypt's financial regulator is holding up a proposed joint
venture between QInvest, majority owned by Qatar Islamic Bank
, and EFG Hermes, the Middle East's top
investment bank. EFG said the deal signed last year will expire
if not approved by May 3.
The deal, which will place EFG's main operations in a
company 60 percent owned by QInvest, is politically sensitive in
Egypt because both of EFG's chief executives are on trial with
the two sons of ousted President Hosni Mubarak over allegations
of illegal share dealings in relation to a 2007 transaction.
Qatar was also angered by Cairo's decision to impose a 10
percent tax last month on investment gains from the takeover by
Qatar National Bank of local lender National Societe
Generale Bank, making QNB effectively overpay.
However, a finance ministry aide said on the eve of Kandil's
visit that the government had decided to cancel the tax on stock
dividends and investment gains and would reimburse the revenue
already levied to shareholders.
QNB said in December it planned to buy only the 77 percent
stake in NSGB held by France's Societe Generale but in
February, the Egyptian regulator gave its approval on condition
that the Qatari lender buy 100 percent of NSGB.