(Recasts with formal EGPC denial)
CAIRO, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Egyptian General Petroleum Corp (EGPC) denied on Tuesday that it was negotiating with banks to delay dollar payments owed to them after failing to receive its full dollar needs from the central bank in November.
Egypt is facing a dollar shortage and mounting pressure to devalue the pound. Foreign reserves have tumbled from $36 billion in 2011 to $16.42 billion in November and the country has focused on directing its dollars to strategic commodities.
An EGPC official who asked not to be named told Reuters earlier on Tuesday the company was in negotiations to postpone dollar instalments owed to banks after not being supplied its total dollar requirements by the central bank last month.
“The central bank did not provide the EGPC’s full dollar needs in November and that forced the authority to spend from its own resources,” he said, without elaborating on the size of loans the EGPC was now allegedly negotiating to delay payment.
“All the revenues of the EGPC are directed toward providing the country’s needs for petrochemical products,” he added.
The EGPC later released a statement denying that any such negotiations were taking place, adding that the company was not at risk of missing scheduled payments. “The EGPC is on track and on time with its payment of dues to others,” it said.
The statement, however, made no mention of whether the central bank had fully supplied the company with its dollar needs the month prior.
On Tuesday Egypt’s minister of international cooperation told Reuters that the first tranche of $4.5 billion in loans from the World Bank and AfDB should arrive “within days” of being signed later this month.
These loans are expected to bring in much-needed foreign exchange that could free up cash for energy imports.
Egypt’s import bill for petroleum and natural gas is roughly $800 million per month. (Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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