Egypt sees IMF talks resuming in January

Egyptian prime minister Hisham Kandil said on Sunday he expected a resumption of talks in January with the International Monetary Fund on a $4.8bn loan.

Political unrest in Egypt over the past month had led the country to ask the IMF to delay its decision on the loan until the government had an opportunity to pursue discussions on policies such as a planned increase in taxes.

But the country's prime minister said on Sunday: "We hope that there will not be any fundamental changes in our plan with the IMF because we will summon them in January so we resume discussions to go forward in the matter of the loan."

He was speaking during a news conference to announce a "national economic initiative" which he said aimed to build consensus around the government's economic programme.

Egypt originally asked for the $4.8bn loan in August to help boost its economy.

The country is grappling with a crippling budget deficit and dwindling foreign reserves. The government hopes the loan will attract needed foreign investment.

His comments came as the Egyptian pound reportedly hit a record low on Sunday of about 6.30 to the dollar after the central bank introduced a new currency regime.

Egypt's central bank introduced a new currency regime on Sunday to conserve its foreign reserves, which it said had reached a critical level.

The regime includes regular currency auctions, with the central bank offering $75m at the maiden auction on Sunday, with Egyptian banks allowed to bid for a maximum $11m each.