Egyptian political groups demand halt of IMF loan talks
In open letter to Egyptian PM and IMF chief, 18 mostly left-leaning political groups demand halt of govt's ongoing loan talks with global financial institution
Ahram Online, Monday 12 Nov 2012
Christine Lagarde during her meeting with Mohamed Morsi in August (Photo: Reuters)
Several Egyptian political groups on Sunday sent a letter to Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Christine Lagarde rejecting ongoing negotiations for a proposed $4.5 billion loan.
The letter, released by 18 mostly left-leaning groups, condemned the "lack of transparency" that they say has characterised the government's ongoing loan talks with the global financial institution.
"Negotiations over the terms and conditions of the loan agreement, including the government's economic reform programme, have lacked transparency on the part of both the IMF and the Government of Egypt," the letter read.
The letter's signatories go on to demand that Cairo immediately halt all negotiations with the IMF.
In mid-October, an IMF delegation visited Cairo to work out the details of the proposed $4.5 billion loan agreement. Last week, Egyptian Finance Minister Momtaz El-Said said he expected the deal to be signed by January of next year.
Few details about the negotiations have been made public, however. Nor has the economic programme prepared by the government and presented to the IMF delegation.
Since negotiations began, the government has pledged to engage in a national discussion regarding the loan, its terms and its potential consequences. The letter's signatories, however, say that such discussions are insufficient.
"The public consultations carried out by the government to date to solicit societal feedback on the loan have been exclusionary and inaccessible," the letter asserts. "They do not fully represent Egypt's civil society and political groups."
The letter goes on to posit that, since Egypt currently does not have a functioning parliament, "any agreement under these circumstances would contravene the democratic principle of separation of powers and Egypt's longstanding constitutional requirement of parliamentary oversight over executive decisions."
The People's Assembly, the lower house of Egypt's parliament, was dissolved last June following a ruling by the High Constitutional Court. Currently, President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first-ever democratically-elected head of state, holds all executive and legislative powers.
Ambiguity over the conditions of the proposed loan has led to considerable speculation. Critics say that, by dealing with the IMF, Egypt's new government is "continuing the old regime's economic policies, particularly as they relate to the incursion of debt."
"The austerity measures associated with this potential loan agreement, including cutting subsidies as well as other deficit-reduction policies, may aggravate the economic deprivation of a large section of the population, threatening their basic economic and social rights," the letter stated.
The letter's signatories include the Strong Egypt Party, the April 6 Youth Movement, the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, the National Independent Federation of Workers' Syndicates and the Egyptian Popular Current, among others.
Signatory groups intend to stage a demonstration on Monday afternoon outside the Egyptian Stock Exchange in downtown Cairo to protest the ongoing loan talks.