The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is not in talks with Egypt about a new loan program, IMF Mission Chief for Egypt Chris Jarvis has said.
"So far the Egyptian authorities have not requested IMF financing, but we would be ready to consider such a request when the authorities feel it is opportune," said Jarvis, adding that "the Fund stands ready to help Egypt and its people”.
His comments came in an IMF-issued statement after a team led by Jarvis visited Cairo in September of this year to review economic developments since November 2014 when the IMF consulted on Egypt's economy, after being requested to do so as part of their Article IV Consultation program.
The team discussed their economic policies for the remainder of the fiscal year with Egyptian officials.
“The Egyptian authorities succeeded in significantly reducing the underlying budget deficit despite a decline in foreign grants, thanks to a wide-ranging set of reforms including energy subsidy reforms, and progress in containing the wage bill and increasing tax revenues," according to the IMF Mission Chief for Egypt.
"The government’s plan is designed to balance fiscal consolidation with increased spending on social programs and infrastructure investment”, said Jarvis.
However Jarvis noted that "the fiscal deficit is still large and domestic public debt high”.
Such declarations have caused some experts to predict that Egypt will re-enter discussions with the IMF for a loan.
Egyptian finance ministry sources told Ahram Online that “obtaining a loan from the IMF is not on our agenda right now, we'd prefer to use other instruments to reduce the budget deficit and to increase our financial resources”.
The finance minister, Hani Dimian, laid out in a Cairo conference in early September three alternatives for reducing the deficit and for providing the country's other imminent financial requirements: international bonds; sukuk (Islamic asset-secured loans) and broadening the tax base.