News / Middle East

Egypt Expects IMF Loan Agreement Soon

Egyptian protesters hold placards with the Arabic inscription reading ‘danger’ and shout slogans as they demonstrate against the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation visit in Cairo, April 3, 2013.
Egyptian protesters hold placards with the Arabic inscription reading ‘danger’ and shout slogans as they demonstrate against the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation visit in Cairo, April 3, 2013.
Reuters
Egypt's planning minister said on Thursday the government expects to reach a final agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $4.8 billion loan within two weeks, the state news agency MENA reported. Ashraf al-Araby also said that Cairo had not requested an increase in the amount of the loan, needed to avert a deepening economic crisis.

An IMF delegation resumed long-delayed negotiations with Egypt on Wednesday and government officials have said the team is expected to stay until April 15.
    
The IMF has set no timeline for a deal and some private economists are skeptical that an agreement can be reached before parliamentary elections later this year because of the need to implement unpopular tax rises and subsidy cuts.

After two years of political upheaval, foreign currency reserves have fallen to critically low levels, limiting Egypt's ability to buy wheat, of which it is the world's biggest importer, and fuel.

Foreign reserves dipped further to $13.4 billion at end-March, the central bank reported, down from $13.5 billion a month earlier, equivalent to less than three months' imports.

Cairo must convince the global lender it is serious about reforms aimed at boosting growth and curbing an unaffordable budget deficit. That implies tax hikes and politically risky cuts in state subsidies for fuel and food, including bread.

The government reached a preliminary agreement with the IMF
on the loan last November but went back on implementing the economic conditions in December amid political unrest over the extent of President Mohamed Morsi's powers.

In a statement coinciding with the IMF team's visit, Oil Minister Osama Kamel said the government aims to phase out subsidies for bread, other basic foodstuffs and oil within three to five years.

"We are considering starting to increase salaries and decrease subsidies until we manage to completely eliminate subsidies in three to five years,'' Kamal said in an interview with state-run Al-Ahram newspaper.

Just before the visit, the government announced an increase in the price of subsidized cooking gas. But it has postponed plans to ration subsidized fuel using smart cards until July 1 and some reports say that date may be pushed back further.

The Egyptian pound has lost nearly one-tenth of its value against the dollar on the official market this year and has fallen more sharply on the black market in the last few days due to dwindling supplies of the U.S. currency.

The dollar is now worth 17 percent more in unofficial trading than the official rate, said Mohamed Radwan, director of international sales at Pharos Securities.

The Cairo bourse fell to a 2013 low on Wednesday as foreign investors sold stocks on fears that Egypt's currency would be further devalued. The stock market index recovered slightly on Thursday.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid