The International Monetary Fund will carry out its annual assessment of Egypt’s economy once the cash-strapped country manages to pass a delayed review of its $3 billion rescue program.
(Bloomberg) — The International Monetary Fund will carry out its annual assessment of Egypt’s economy once the cash-strapped country manages to pass a delayed review of its $3 billion rescue program.
“We are giving priority to engaging with the authorities on steps to complete the review under the Extended Fund Facility to support macroeconomic stabilization,” an IMF spokesperson told Bloomberg by email on Tuesday. “Once the review is completed, we will schedule the Article IV consultation.”
The decision will do little to reassure a market on edge over the status of March’s delayed review or the assessment that was due in September. The impasse means Egypt can’t unlock about $700 million in loan tranches or access a $1.3 billion resilience fund — financing that could potentially spur major Gulf investments.
Read More: Egypt Clears One Hurdle for IMF Review, Faces Other on Currency
IMF staff conduct regular visits to member states that include meetings with local officials and then provide a report with accompanying analysis to the fund’s executive board for discussion. An Article IV consultation concludes with the presentation of the board’s views to the country’s authorities and its public release.
The fund lists multiple reasons for possible delays of what it calls “the regular health check” of members’ economies, which range from program-related issues to authorities’ request. Egypt has gone through long stretches when no Article IV report was issued, with the last such review published in July 2021.
Egypt is the IMF’s second-biggest borrower after Argentina, and the deal with the North African nation is shaping up as a test of the lender’s ability to broker and see through delicate programs in major emerging markets.
The country’s financing needs remain high at $24 billion in the fiscal year through June 2024, according to Morgan Stanley, and the amounts it’s getting from foreign direct investments, portfolio inflows and asset sales have been disappointing.
Egypt has devalued its currency three times since early last year, steps that helped it secure the IMF deal. But authorities so far appear to fall short of delivering on promises to allow for what the central bank has called a “durably flexible” exchange-rate regime.
The Washington-based IMF wants to see more flexibility in the pound before signing off on the review. An earlier-than-expected presidential election will likely postpone any unpopular decisions, including another round of depreciation.
Read More: Egypt’s President Sisi to Run Again as Economic Crisis Deepens
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi confirmed this week he’ll seek a another term in a December vote he’s widely expected to win. In June, the Egyptian leader appeared to reject another imminent devaluation, warning of the toll rising prices would take on Egypt’s 105 million population.
With a weaker currency unlikely before elections, Jean-Michel Saliba, Middle East and North Africa economist at Bank of America Corp., expected the lender to combine the first, second and third reviews in the first quarter of 2024.
Saliba said there was a chance an IMF mission could visit Cairo in mid-October as part of Article IV consultations “and to reassure markets about the continued dialog with authorities.”
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