Egypt invites IMF team for $4.8 billion loan talks

Egypt invites IMF team for $4.8 billion loan talks

CAIRO - Reuters
Egypt invited an IMF technical team yesterday to reopen negotiations on a $4.8 billion loan deal, the state newspaper al-Ahram reported, as the country’s foreign currency reserves slide to worryingly low levels.

Al-Ahram’s website quoted planning minister Ashraf al-Araby as saying he expected the team to arrive within 10 days.

Egypt reached an initial agreement on the loan in November but postponed final ratification following political unrest inCairo, which led the government to put off tax increases needed to rein in the budget deficit.

“Today, (yesterday), a formal invitation will be sent to the technical delegation of the International Monetary Fund to come to Cairo to negotiate over the $4.8 billion loan to Egypt,” al-Ahram quoted al-Araby, who is Planning and International Cooperation Minister, as saying.

Egypt’s new Islamist administration, led by President Mohamed Mursi, is facing an economic crisis. Fitch Ratings said on Feb. 27 that extended voting in parliamentary elections, due to start in late April and last till late June, could delay the IMF loan agreement until the third quarter.

Cairo needs to shore up its finances after two years of political turmoil since the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, driving away tourists and investors.