A delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrived in Cairo Wednesday to continue negotiating a $4.8bn loan to Egypt. The presidential spokesperson announced that President Mohamed Morsi would not meet with them but that the government would sort out the “complex, technical details” of the loan in his absence.
The delegation arrived after another round of economic reforms was announced by the Egyptian government on Sunday aiming to cut government spending on energy subsidies.
Cutting such subsidies, which account for approximately a third of government spending, is one of the IMF’s critical conditions for issuing the loan. But the weight of these reforms will fall on Egypt’s poorest, according to a statement by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR).
“The IMF loan will not be enough to solve Egypt’s economic problems,” the statement said. “Amidst the increased sales taxes on basic commodities and the devaluation of the Egyptian Pound, the IMF’s demands show a continued bias favouring the rich over the poor.”
Crowds of protesters marched on Wednesday from the High Court to the Cabinet, chanting against the Muslim Brotherhood, the Central Bank and the IMF.
“Egypt needs no loans! Egypt needs no aid!” protesters cried. They also called for bread, freedom, and social justice.
Former presidential candidate Khaled Ali filed a lawsuit against the president, the Shura Council, the Cabinet, and the Minister of Finance for “attempting to overthrow the economic and social systems” by trying to pass the IMF loan without the consent of the house of representatives.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed the Obama administration’s concerns regarding Egypt’s situation.
“This is a key moment for Egypt. It’s really a tipping point for Egypt,” Kerry said. “And we have been working very, very hard in the last weeks to try to get the Government of Egypt to reach out to the opposition, to deal with the IMF, to come to an agreement which will allow Egypt to begin to transform its economy and improve the lives of its citizens.”
Economic reforms: http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/04/01/budget-details-released/
Postponed indefinitely: http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/03/06/administrative-court-suspends-elections/