Egypt finance minister expects IMF loan before elections

Finance Minister Morsy Hegazy said Sunday he expected his government to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a US$4.8 billion loan before parliamentary elections in April, state media reported.

The crucial loan has been postponed amid political instability in the country that has prevented President Mohamed Morsy from undertaking certain key economic reforms.

Hegazy said he expected "the agreement with the IMF … to be made before the upcoming parliamentary elections," which will be held over three months starting on 22 April, the official MENA news agency reported.

He said his ministry has prepared an economic plan that will be "implemented regardless of whether the loan arrives."

Observers expect the loan to materialize only after the new parliament is in place and a new government formed.

The loan would help restore investor and foreign lenders' confidence in Egypt, which has suffered a sharp economic decline since the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

In a meeting with Egyptian business leaders in Cairo Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the importance of the IMF loan, which is partly conditioned on a measure of agreement between the nation's divided factions.

"It is paramount, essential, urgent that the Egyptian economy gets stronger, that it gets back on its feet," he said. "It is clear to us that the IMF arrangement needs to be reached. So we need to give the marketplace the confidence."

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