IMF leave Cairo after 'positive' talks
An International Monetary Fund [IMF] delegation left Cairo on Monday morning after day-long talks with the Egyptian government over a $4.8 billion loan which both parties portrayed as positive.
Discussions were based on a revised economic programme, suggested by the government, which involves more gradual measures to tackle Egypt's budget deficit than the programme it presented to the fund last November. The revised programme will "preserve growth rates, jobs, and protect the poor," the Egyptian government said.
Loan negotiations stalled in December after President Morsi's government failed to implement a stringent economic reform plan, including a raft of tax hikes, as part of its preliminary agreement with the fund.
"We've made very good progress, and we had very constructive discussions," said Masood Ahmed, director of the IMF's Middle East and Central Asia department, after meeting Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil in Cairo.
"We agreed that our discussions would continue diligently over the coming weeks with the aim of reaching agreement on possible financial support from the IMF," added Ahmed, who headed the delegation which met with Central Bank of Egypt Governor Hisham Ramez, as well as Egypt's finance and planning ministers.
The IMF has offered Egypt emergency funding until it implements the reforms necessary to secure the larger $4.8 billion package, which might not happen until after the country's legislative elections.
Elections for Egypt's lower house of parliament, which was dissolved in June 2012, were scheduled to start on 22 April until a court ruled the electoral law to be unconstitutional, forcing the country's electoral commission to scrap its timetable.