Egypt Says Working to Settle Investor Disputes Amicably

Egypt is working to amicably resolve disputes with investors while pushing ahead with new projects and drafting an economic program needed to secure an International Monetary Fund loan, officials said today.

The new government under President Mohamed Mursi wants to settle these disputes “amicably in one month,” Investment Minister Osama Saleh told reporters in Cairo during a conference organized by Beltone Financial. Each of the contracts involves more than 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($164 million) in investment, he said.

“We are planning to rebalance all contractual agreements either in favour of the country, to get its money back, or just to keep it as is and give the investor the green light,” Saleh said.

Court cases challenging contracts signed under the administration of ousted President Hosni Mubarak have been one of the main obstacles to restoring investor confidence after last year’s uprising. The government under Mursi and Prime Minister Hisham Qandil has also been grappling with a widening budget deficit at a time when foreign reserves have been depleted to about 50 percent of their level at the end of 2011.

IMF Request

That decline is one of the factors driving Egypt’s request for a $4.8 billion IMF loan. The financing was requested more than a year ago and has yet to be approved as the fund awaits popular consensus on the government’s economic plans.

Officials had said earlier that an IMF team was due in Cairo by the second half of this month to discuss the loan. Deputy Finance Minister Hany Kadry said in an interview today that officials had drawn up the framework of the program, and it would be finalized after being submitted for “societal dialogue” in two weeks.

“The economic plan has not been written yet,” Kadry said.

“From a legal point of view, if the loan is for the budget deficit then legally it needs legislation. But if it is to treat the balance of payments, then it does not need legislation,” he said.

As part of the push to win back investors, Kadry said the government had identified 14 public-private partnership projects, half of which were in the planning stage and the remainder to be launched in 18 to 24 months. Saleh, the investment minister, said the projects were valued at $8 billion in total.

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