CAIRO, March 17 (Xinhua) -- International Monetary Fund (IMF) senior official Masood Ahmed described Sunday his talks with Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil on the intended IMF rescue loan of 4.8 billion U.S. dollars to Egypt as "positive."
Ahmed, the IMF director of Middle East and Central Asia Department, told reporters in a brief statement after his meeting with Qandil that there was "progress" regarding the negotiations on the loan requested by Egypt.
"We all agree to assist Egypt and we support its economic reform program to face the current economic challenges," Ahmed said, pointing out that the Fund "will work with the Egyptian government in the coming few weeks through an IMF technical commission."
Egypt is currently in a desperate need for the IMF loan as the country is struggling to survive a severe financial crisis created by two years of turmoil and instability following the upheaval in early 2011 that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.
An official statement of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) showed that the foreign fund reserves declined from 36 billion dollars in January 2011 to 13.5 billion dollars end of February 2013, indicating the country has lost about 22.5 billion dollars of foreign currency reserves over the past two years.
The country is also suffering a growing budget deficit that is expected to vary between 27 billion and 30 billion dollars by the end of the current fiscal year if turmoil goes on.
While some economic experts believe that the IMF loan could help Egypt survive the economic hardship and restore the world's confidence in the country's economy, others hold that this loan represents pressure on the Egyptian leadership, which will have to raise prices, impose extra taxes and face public anger.