DUBAI, May 21 (Xinhua) -- An International Monetary Fund (IMF) official on Tuesday called on Egypt, an oil importing country, to cut energy subsidies and spend more in other fields to reinvigorate its economy.
Speaking to reporters in Dubai, Masood Ahmed, the IMF chief for the Middle East and Central Asia, said the wealth gap in some Arab oil importing countries, including Egypt, is widening after two years of turmoil.
He called on Egypt to cut its energy subsidies, saying their size is two to three times bigger than that of the money spent on education.
"This policy has to stop. Energy subsidies are pervasive and bring about further financial and economic burdens," Ahmed said.
He pointed out that Egypt has been negotiating since 2011 with the IMF on a 4.8-billion-U.S.-dollar loan but its huge energy subsidies are a concern for the IMF.
According to the Central Bank of Egypt, foreign currency reserves slumped from 36 billion dollars in January 2011 to 13.4 billion dollars at the end of March.