Egypt scrambles to bolster economy

Dec. 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM
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CAIRO, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The Egyptian government said Sunday it was seeking input from the public on a new economic policy.

Prime Minister Hesham Kandil and other top officials said at a Cairo news conference the goal of the "societal dialogues" was to ensure all political and societal segments of Egypt have their say and make their views known.

Ashraf El-Arabi, minister of economic cooperation, said, "Our top economic priorities today are to achieve social justice, fight rising unemployment, end corruption, promote investments and revive the tourism sector."

The initiative comes amid continuing political tensions coupled with economic doldrums that Sunday sent the Egyptian pound to an 8-year low against the U.S. dollar and prompted the government to levy a new fee on foreign currency purchases.

"The new fee is curbing the demand on the U.S. dollar a little bit, but a lot of people are coming to buy it at any price," a Cairo bank manager told Ahram Online.

Kandil told reporters Cairo was set to resume talks with the International Monetary Fund next month on a $4.8 billion loan to tide the country over. Negotiations had been suspended amid a spurt of political violence over the new Egyptian constitution, the BBC said.

"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," Kandil said.

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