Qatar throws Egypt $2.5 bn lifeline to prop up pound



Reuters

Published — Wednesday 9 January 2013

Last update 8 January 2013 10:50 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

CAIRO: Qatar tossed Egypt an economic lifeline yesterday, announcing it had lent Egypt another $ 2 billion and given it an extra $ 500 million outright to help control a currency crisis.
Political strife has set off a rush to convert Egyptian pounds to dollars over the past several weeks, sending the currency to a record low against the US dollar and draining foreign reserves to a critical level.
The government said it expected an International Monetary Fund technical committee to visit Cairo in two to three weeks' time to resume talks on a crucial $ 4.8 billion loan to plug balance of payments and budget deficits.
Qatar's handout appears to be another example of the Gulf state seeking to deepen its influence in a Middle East being reshaped by revolts that have unseated long-serving autocrats.
"There was an initial package of $ 2.5 billion, of which $ 0.5 billion was a grant and $ 2 billion a deposit," Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani told reporters after meeting Egypt's Islamist president, Muhammad Mursi.
"We discussed transferring one of the deposits into an additional grant so that the grants became $ 1 billion and the deposits doubled to around $ 4 billion," he said.
Hamad added that the new Qatari grants and deposits with Egypt's central bank had all arrived. "Some of the final details with the deposits are being worked on with the technical people, but the amount is there," he said.
The Qatari funds should help tide Egypt over until the government can seal an IMF agreement that analysts view as vital to give the Islamist government credibility with the markets.
The IMF's Middle East and Central Asia director, Masood Ahmed, left Cairo yesterday after meeting Mursi the day before.
"Negotiations with the IMF team will resume from where they stopped," Mursi's spokesman, Yasser Ali, said. Asked when the IMF's technical committee would visit Cairo, he said it was expected in the next two to three weeks.
Egypt struck an initial loan accord with the IMF in November but last month postponed the deal because of political unrest set off by Mursi's drive to fast-track a new constitution.
The unrest led Mursi to suspend increases in the sales tax on a range of goods and services that were deemed necessary to conclude an IMF deal.
The Egyptian pound weakened to a record low of about 6.48 to the dollar yesterday after the central bank offered $ 60 million in the latest of a series of foreign currency auctions introduced in an attempt to contain the currency crisis.
The pound has weakened 4 .6 percent on the interbank market since the system began on Dec. 30. The central bank auctioned a total of $ 300 million in auctions last week.
The currency has lost more than a tenth of its value during the turbulent political transition since Mubarak's fall.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: A total of 172,000 pilgrims have arrived via 861 flights from around the world at King Abdulaziz International Airport so far, said Turki Al-Theeb, the airport’s director of media and public relations.He said the number of Haj flights are exp...
RIYADH: Saudis from all walks of life are hopeful that the visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to the United States this week will strengthen relations between the two countries and ensure a peaceful and stable Middle East.Shoura C...
JEDDAH: Security forces killed a terrorist who tried to attack a security facility in Abqaiq on Friday, the Interior Ministry said.Sgt. Ali Al-Habeeb, 47, was killed during the confrontation with the attacker, identified as Nawaf Manahi Shabib Al-Ota...
ANKARA: Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani has said that unemployment among Saudis is relatively high, pointing to the negative impact of retreating oil prices on the economy and labor market. He confirmed that the Kingdom was continuing with the impl...
JEDDAH: The country’s newly elected municipal councils should have a say in selecting mayors and secretaries general of cities, participants at a Municipal Councils Forum suggested on Thursday.They proposed that the councils should compile a list of...
DAMMAM: Many Saudis have complained that while the Kingdom has attractive local tourist spots, several charge high prices, offer poor services and lack proper hygiene.They said that Taif, Abha, Baha, Jeddah and the Eastern Province have popular resor...

Stay Connected

Facebook