- Government to double spending on cash transfer programs
- Official says budget gap target of below 10% of GDP realistic
Egypt expects to hold talks with the World Bank and African Development Bank this month on the second installment of an assistance package as the Arab country seeks to mobilize international support to revive its struggling economy.
A joint mission from the two lenders will visit Egypt by the end of this month, Deputy Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk said Tuesday in a Bloomberg TV interview in Dubai. “The Ministry of International Cooperation is leading this file,” he said, without providing details.
Egypt is seeking to attract $21 billion over three years to finance a program that aims to restore investor confidence in an economy battered by instability and a crippling dollar shortage. Authorities are edging closer to conclude a $12 billion loan accord with the International Monetary Fund and have already secured a total of $1.5 billion from the World Bank and AfDB. The International Cooperation Ministry said this month it aims to receive a similar amount by the end of this year.
Kouchouk said the government expects the IMF’s board to review its loan request “a few weeks from now.” “The IMF for us is a buy-in in our home-grown program,” he said.
As part of the plan to shore up public finances, authorities have approved a value-added-taxation law and lowered electricity subsidies. Economists expect the measures, as well as a widely anticipated currency devaluation, to drive consumer prices higher. Inflation is already at the highest level since at least 2009 after policy makers weakened the pound by more than 10 percent in March.
The government is planning to double spending on cash transfer programs to help shield the poor, Kouchouk said. “We want to increase the number of beneficiaries from half a million families to 1.5 million families by the end of June, and this is realistic,” he said. Egypt has a population of about 90 million.