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

    Pentagon: Afghan Hospital Bombing Not a War Crime

    US Central Command's Joseph Votel says probe found tragedy was result of 'extraordinarily intense situation' that included multiple equipment failures

    US Minorities Link Guns with Other Social Ills

    New study finds reduction in gun violence could help lower America’s incarceration rate – the world’s highest - and improve relationships between police, citizens in minority communities

    US Millennials Beat Baby Boomers as Largest Living Generation

    America's young people are about to take over and here's what we can expect from them

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkey Islamists

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora