CAIRO, (Reuters) – A senior official in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will meet Egyptian President and other top officials on Monday to discuss Cairo’s request for a $4.8 billion loan, a major state-run Egyptian newspaper reported on Saturday.
The IMF loan is seen as crucial to easing Egypt’s budget deficit and an economic slump caused by the turmoil that followed the popular uprising that ousted autocratic president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
“Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi will receive on the day after tomorrow Masood Ahmed, the IMF director for the Middle East and Central Asia… and it is expected that the meeting will include talks about the IMF’s loan to Egypt,” the Akhbar Al-Youm daily reported.
It said Masood would also meet Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, some ministers and the central bank governor. Officials from the cabinet, presidency and IMF were not immediately available to comment on the report.
Egypt’s currency has lost about 10 percent against the dollar since the start of 2011. But about a third of that plunge has come in the last week alone, since the central bank began auctioning $75 million a day out of its reserves on December 30.
The pound slid further on Thursday at the central bank’s fourth auction of foreign currency, with $74.9 million sold to banks at a cut-off price of 6.386 pounds, weaker than Wednesday’s 6.351 to the dollar.
The cabinet spokesman said on Thursday that an IMF mission would visit in January to discuss the loan deal, which was postponed last month at Cairo’s behest because of violent anti-Mursi protests raging at the time.
The IMF said last week that it welcomed steps Egypt had taken to stop a drain on its international reserves, which had driven the Egyptian pound down to record lows.
Egypt’s budget deficit in the year to end-June 2013 could widen by 50 percent from the original forecast made in July, according to a figure released by the planning minister last Monday.