IMF agrees to lend Egypt $2.77 billion to help with coronavirus fallout

Egyptian men wearing masks wait outside a center of non-governmental organization Egyptian Food Bank to receive cartons with foodstuffs on April 05, 2020 in Cairo. (AFP)

The International Monetary Fund has agreed to lend Egypt $2.77 billion in emergency assistance to deal with the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic, its executive board said Monday.

Egyptian government officials had requested a one-year bailout loan package last month, as the historic economic shutdown takes a heavy toll on the Arab world’s most populous country.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically disrupted people’s lives, livelihoods, and economic conditions in Egypt … resulting in an urgent balance of payments need,” said Geoffrey Okamoto, First Deputy Managing Director and acting Chair of the IMF.

A woman wearing a protective face mask, amid concerns over the coronavirus, looks at traditional Ramadan lanterns, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at Al Khayamia street in old Cairo, Egypt, April 16, 2020. (Reuters)

A woman wearing a protective face mask, amid concerns over the coronavirus, looks at traditional Ramadan lanterns, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at Al Khayamia street in old Cairo, Egypt, April 16, 2020. (Reuters)

Although Egypt, which has recorded 9,746 COVID-19 infections and 533 deaths, has not yet seen an outbreak on the scale of the one sweeping the US and Europe, its case count is rising, and critical sources of income are vanishing.

Tourism, which accounts for some 12 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product, has ground to a halt.

Remittances from Egyptian workers abroad, another 10 percent of GDP, have dropped and the global downturn jeopardizes revenue from the Suez Canal.

Schools, mosques, museums and the country’s famed archeological sites have been shuttered. Restaurants, bars, theaters and shops close nightly.

One in three Egyptians were already living in poverty before the outbreak, according to government figures.

An Egyptian man carries a box with foodstuffs outside a center of non-governmental organization Egyptian Food Bank on April 05, 2020. (AFP)

An Egyptian man carries a box with foodstuffs outside a center of non-governmental organization Egyptian Food Bank on April 05, 2020. (AFP)

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly had described the loan as a way to protect foreign currency reserves and hard-won gains over years of significant economic reforms and austerity measures.

Egypt secured a $12 billion bailout package from the IMF in 2016 in exchange for floating the currency, slashing key subsidies and imposing a value-added tax.

In its statement on Monday, the IMF said that even with the loan, Egypt needs a boost from multilateral and bilateral creditors to close its payment gap and bring the economy back from the edge.

Read more:

Video: Egypt disinfects pyramid complex amid coronavirus concerns

Egyptian forces exchange fire with ‘terrorist’ group planning bomb attacks in Cairo

Coronavirus: Pope Francis calls for fasting during day in Ramadan for end of COVID-19

SHOW MORE
Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 14:07 - GMT 11:07
Top