Egypt close to signing Qatari gas deal
Egypt might finalize a deal to import natural gas from Qatar during a visit by Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, according to Egyptian Planning and International Cooperation Minister Ashraf al-Araby.
Araby, who arrived with Qandil's delegation in Doha Tuesday, said Qatar is now one of Egypt’s primary supporters. He noted that the Gulf kingdom had already provided US$5 billion in economic assistance, including a $1 billion grant.
Araby said the Egyptian government is seeking to cut the budget deficit down to 9.5 percent of gross domestic product during the current fiscal year and to 8.5 percent in fiscal 2013/2014. However, the funding gap is predicted to persist until 30 June 2015, the minister said.
He also expected negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a US$4.8 billion loan to conclude within two weeks, but noted that if they fail, the government would apply additional austerity measures.
Egypt has begun implementing an economic reform program to ration subsidies and restructure the taxation system, with taxes already raised on cement, steel, telecommunications, cigarettes, alcohol, and soft drinks, the minister said.