Egypt Edges Closer to IMF $12 Billion Loan Approval

CAIRO, Capital Markets in Africa: Egypt will request a meeting of the International Monetary Fund’s executive board within days after meeting the requirements for a $12 billion loan, the lender’s largest ever in the region.

“We are making very good progress on getting the required $5 billion to $6 billion” stipulated by the IMF before the board reviews the loan, Egypt’s Deputy Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk told reporters at a two-day Euromoney conference that began on Monday in Cairo. “It shouldn’t be a concern.”

A sign-off from the IMF would release the first tranche of a three-year loan signed in August, which officials expect will attract aid and investment to an economy hampered by a foreign currency shortage. Egypt’s international reserves of $16.6 billion are still around 50 percent below their pre-2011 levels when President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power, while the pound has been trading on the black market at around a 30 percent discount to the official rate against the dollar.

Egypt has secured some of the funding required by the IMF from oil-rich Gulf Arab states, who have already pumped billions of dollars into the economy since the 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi. It also plans to sell between $3 billion and $5 billion in international bonds.

Ahead of the IMF financing, the government introduced a value-added tax, raised electricity prices and sought other cost savings to shrink one of the Middle East’s highest budget deficits. Economists say inflation, currently almost 16 percent, may reach 20 percent by the end of the year with the VAT. The new tax led the World Bank and the African Development Bank to release $1.5 billion of previously agreed loans.

Egypt is also in talks with China for $4 billion in loans to fund sewage and renewable energy projects, International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr told reporters in Cairo.

Source: Bloomberg Business News

Leave a Comment