IMF rejects reports of disagreement: Talks in Egypt were 'productive'
WASHINGTON - The International Monetary Fund said Thursday an IMF team had fruitful talks with authorities in Egypt this week that could lead to an IMF loan.
"The mission had productive talks with the authorities and key political parties in parliament," IMF spokesman David Hawley said at a regularly scheduled news briefing.
"They've been there for the past three days to lay the groundwork for the return of the technical team that can continue work on Egypt's economic program which, in turn, could be supported by the Fund," he said.
Egypt's economy has suffered dramatically after a popular uprising a year ago toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt had spurned an IMF loan last year but has since changed its mind amid a stalling economy.
Hawley, the IMF spokesman, rejected some media reports that the IMF mission and Egypt had failed to agree on a program.
The IMF mission "was intended to meet with key stakeholders in the country... it included political and parliamentary leaders," he said.
"This is to make sure that if and when a program is agreed that there is a clear understanding on both sides about the support needed for implementing policies."
The Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest political force, on Tuesday held off from backing a request for an IMF loan, urging more government transparency.
The Islamist party said in a statement that the military-controlled government "has not yet submitted a plan of economic measures relating to the loan" and did not say "how this loan will be used, or how it will be paid off."
In late February, the official Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram, reported that Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Said said his government would sign a memorandum of understanding with the IMF in March for a previously spurned $3.2 billion loan.
Negotiations for any IMF loan would come in a context of political uncertainty in Egypt.
On Saturday, Egypt's parliament and senate voted for a 100-strong panel tasked with drafting the country's new constitution to include 50 lawmakers from the Islamist-dominated parliament.
The new constitution will replace the one suspended by the ruling generals when they assumed power following the overthrow of President Mubarak in February 2011.
The first presidential election since Mubarak's ouster is scheduled on May 23 and 24.