Report: Head of IMF says world body to attend investors conference in Egypt in February

CAIRO – The head of the International Monetary Fund said in remarks published Sunday that the world body will attend an investment conference in Egypt in February during which authorities hope to raise billions of dollars to revive the country’s battered economy.

Ahead of the conference, IMF hopes to prepare a long-delayed assessment of Egypt’s economy, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told the Saudi-owned Arabic daily Ashraq Al-Awsat.

Lagarde said Cairo’s recent efforts at reforms, including the reduction of energy subsidies, were “a good start” toward improving Egypt’s crippling budget deficit.

Egypt has not asked for an IMF loan — which it hasn’t secured during negotiations in the past three years of turmoil — but wants the IMF to resume its periodic economic assessments of the country’s economy, Lagarde said.

IMF last conducted such a review for Egypt in 2010 but subsequent reviews were hampered by the political turmoil, fund officials said.

“The authorities’ recent reform efforts are already encouraging,” Lagarde said. “I hope that through our consultation process … we can add to the dialogue on the Egyptian reform process and provide conference participants with an assessment of how those reforms can help restore durable economic stability and sustainable growth to Egypt.”

Egyptian Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian has said he hopes the resumption of consultation with the IMF will also help restore investors’ confidence in the country’s economy.

After more than three years of turmoil, Egypt’s revenues have shrunk and investments have all but disappeared. Following last year’s ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, oil-rich Gulf Arab allies have propped up Egypt’s government with billions of dollars.

Egypt’s government is looking to raise as much as $100 billion at the February conference to help finance several mega-projects the authorities are pursuing, including the development of the Suez Canal area.