(Recasts; adds quotes, background)
WASHINGTON Feb 3 The International Monetary
Fund on Thursday said it was too early to know what impact
violent protests in Egypt will have on the economy and
neighboring countries, but the IMF was ready to offer advice
once the situation calmed.
"We just don't know yet how the economic situation will
develop because it is not yet clear how the political situation
will develop," IMF spokeswoman Caroline Atkinson told a regular
"There is an issue of who is in charge of what now," she
Egypt has announced it will reopen banks on Sunday after a
week-long closure and there are fears of a run on banks. The
central bank said on Thursday it would limit cash withdrawals
by individuals but allow unlimited transfers abroad. For
details, see [ID:nLDE7121YO]
Atkinson said the IMF stood ready to help Egypt with
economic advice once the situation had stabilized.
The fund has long warned about high unemployment rates
among youths in the Middle East and Atkinson said this was an
important challenge for any government in Egypt.
The IMF completed a regular review of Egypt's economy
shortly before protesters took to the streets demanding an end
to 30 years of rule by President Hosni Mubarak.
During the review, the IMF had focused on the need for
"broad-based and inclusive growth," and measures to tackle
unemployment, Atkinson said.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in an interview
with Reuters on Wednesday that countries such as Egypt had to
deal with the problem of "partial modernization" of their
economies, in which the political system did not allow the
masses to benefit from economic reforms. [ID:nN02240440]