Top IMF Official To Visit Egypt For Talks On Economy

A senior official from the International Monetary Fund will visit Cairo starting on Sunday for talks with the authorities on a revised economic program and next steps in the IMF’s engagement with the country.

IMF spokesman William Murray said on Thursday that the fund’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa Masood Ahmed will visit Cairo, the first visit by a top IMF official since Egypt submitted revised economic data to the IMF to qualify for a $4.8 billion IMF loan.

Egypt has said it is studying an offer of a bridging loan from the IMF, which would give the authorities access to rapid credit while it negotiates a full-fledged IMF program.

But Cabinet spokesman Alaa el-Hadidi, however, dismissed the suggestion on March 12, saying Egypt would not sign any emergency loan and any agreement would be within the framework of the country’s economic program.

Murray would not elaborate on the upcoming discussions, saying only that “the IMF remains fully committed to supporting Egypt at this critical time.”

Turning to Tunisia, Murray said negotiations for a precautionary loan were continuing at a technical level until the IMF had established relations with a new government put in place on Wednesday.

The IMF was in the process of negotiating a $1.78 billion loan with Tunisia when political turmoil prompted Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali to resign. New Prime Minister Ali Larayedh has said Islamist-led government would serve only until an election later in the year.

“Staff is now enquiring about its intentions and its mandate,” Murray added.