No Egypt request for bigger IMF loan, central banker tells paper

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Egypt has not asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to increase a $4.8 billion loan it has not yet drawn down, central bank governor Hisham Ramez told al-Shorouk newspaper on Sunday.

On April 2 the IMF's Middle East and Central Asia director said the size of the loan could be changed depending on the country's needs.

Ramez said that Egypt could still request an increase of $1 billion on the loan if the maturity period was extended to more than 30 months from the 22 months agreed last November.

He reiterated the government's position that Egypt would not seek an emergency loan from the global lender and said that talks with an IMF delegation that arrived in Cairo 10 days ago were going well.

The most populous Arab country needs the loan to ease economic strains after two years of political upheaval. Low reserves of foreign currency threaten Egypt's ability to buy in wheat, of which it is the world's biggest importer, and fuel.

President Mohamed Mursi's government postponed implementating the loan in December in the face of unrest triggered by a political row over the extent of his powers.

Any IMF deal is likely to require Cairo commit to tax increases and cuts in subsidies, a highly sensitive issue at a time when Mursi is facing protests over his management of the country before this year's parliamentary elections.

Shortages of subsidized diesel have paralysed transport in parts of Egypt and the Egyptian pound has lost 9 percent of its value against the dollar since late last year.

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