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IMF Says Egypt Updating Economy Plan to Secure Loan

Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Egypt will include the latest economic developments and political feasibility in its economic plan to secure a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, a fund official said.

Egypt says the loan will help boost investor confidence and encourage other lenders and donors. After agreeing to an economic plan in November with the IMF to get the loan, Egypt asked for a delay last month after President Mohamed Mursi suspended tax increases amid political tensions. The IMF is awaiting the revision of the program before sending a team to Cairo.

“One part is to see, go back and revisit those measures that they had put on hold, which they need to reinstate” and “to look at what is their assessment of the impact of these measures now on revenues,” Masood Ahmed, director of the IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department, told reporters in Washington yesterday.

The government is also trying “to ensure that the measures that they’re putting forward are both adequate to respond to the economic and financial challenges and are consistent and compatible with their political imperatives.”

Technical Team

Once that is advanced, the IMF will send the technical team to Egypt, Ahmed said, adding he hopes that will be in the coming weeks. The fund is also waiting to assess the gap in Egypt’s finances and the details of how that will be filled by other institutions.

“You don’t want to move forward with a program that is only partly financed,” he said.

Asked about the Egyptian pound, which weakened to a record after the nation’s third dollar auction this week, Ahmed said the IMF supports the government’s attempts to strengthen their international reserves and to have a well-functioning foreign-exchange market.

“It’s part of that process that they’ve put in place these auctions and in a way the price is reflecting the supply and demand but the important thing is to keep focus on the objective which they have set out,” he said.

Separately, he said the fund is in negotiations with Tunisian authorities for a loan that would provide the country with a cushion in case the economic situation was to worsen.

An IMF team is also expected to travel to Iran in the first half of the year to update its assessment of the country’s economy and expects to see a larger economic contraction and faster inflation than previously estimated.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sandrine Rastello in Washington at srastello@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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