IMF mission to discuss loans in Egypt this month


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will send a mission to Cairo this month to hold talks on loans to the new government of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, a spokesman for the fund said on Sunday.

The mission, to include Masood Ahmed, the IMF’s director for the Middle East and Central Asia, will discuss “possible financial support for a homegrown economic program,” the spokesman said.
“The IMF stands ready to support Egypt and work closely with the authorities,” added the spokesman, who did not give a specific date for the trip, Reuters reports.

Egyptian Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Saeed told reporters on Saturday Cairo had invited IMF officials to Cairo resume talks on a $3.2 billion loan.

An IMF deal would help Egypt stave off a budget and balance of payments crisis and add credibility to economic reforms needed to restore the confidence of investors who fled the country after the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak by a popular revolt last year.

Saeed, who was selected to remain in his post in the new cabinet sworn in last Thursday, said he expected a growth rate of 3.5-4 percent in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Egypt’s former interim government had previously forecast 4 to 4.5 percent growth for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which started on July 1.

Mursi’s new cabinet will have to decide whether it should implement new and potentially painful austerity measures to help stabilize government finances and secure foreign financial help.

The outgoing army-backed government, which had been negotiating an IMF loan for months, drew up the new state budget to dovetail with IMF demands. The budget took effect on July 1 at the start of the 2012/13 financial year.

The IMF demanded that any loan get broad political support. At the time, this meant the army-controlled cabinet needed the blessing of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) took almost half the seats in parliament.

The FJP refused, saying the government had not provided it with enough details of the proposed IMF agreement or the budget to take a decision.