Egypt seems confident it will be able to close its multibillion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.
On Sunday (Feb. 19), a spokesperson for the country’s Ministry of Finance said the Egyptian government expects the IMF delegation visiting in March to sign a memorandum of understanding for a $3.2 billion loan. The loan will be disbursed in three stages and will be charged 1.2 percent interest, the Wall Street Journal says, citing reports from government-owned newspaper Al-Ahram. The first tranche will be released immediately after the memorandum is signed, Al-Ahram adds. None of these, however, have been confirmed by IMF officials.
The loan, which will be used to fund the country’s economic programs, is not enough to salvage Egypt’s ailing economy. But it can encourage donors to follow through with their aid pledges. To date, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have each given only $500 million of the $3.7 billion and $1.5 billion they have committed to the country. The United Arab Emirates has yet to make good of its promised $3 billion assistance.
Meanwhile, a date has been set for the trial of 43 NGO workers accused of receiving foreign funds illegally to foment unrest in the country, the Wall Street Journal reports. Egyptian judicial authorities announced on Saturday (Feb. 18) that the 43 people — including at least 16 Americans — will face trial on Feb. 26. If convicted, the NGO workers could face up to five years in prison.
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