The International Monetary Fund is prepared to provide external financing to Libya if necessary but does not expect the country to need such help beyond the short term, a senior official of the global lender said on Monday.
"If there is a need for short-term financing, the IMF is there to provide," Masood Ahmed, director of the Fund's Middle East and Central Asia department, said in an interview.
But he added that Libya was not likely to need an extended aid programme, since an estimated $150 billion of sovereign assets once controlled by former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle, now frozen abroad, were expected eventually to be available to the country."In the medium term, it should be able to finance itself," he said.
IMF chief Christine Lagarde said on Saturday the Fund recognised Libya's National Transitional Council as its government and would send a team there as soon as security permits.
Ahmed also said the IMF remained willing to lend money to Egypt if Cairo changed its mind and asked for assistance.Egypt's military rulers turned down an offer of $3 billion from the IMF in June, vowing to fund their budget deficit with domestic resources and loans from wealthy Arab governments.Ahmed said the IMF was encouraged by some economic policy changes planned by the Egyptian government, including reforms to its subsidy system that would improve the distribution of cooking gas to poor people, and moves to raise the prices paid to farmers for their crops.
Ahmed's comments come as the number of tourists visiting Egypt dropped by more than a third in the second quarter of 2011 compared to the same quarter last year as political instability continued to plague the sector, state-run statistics agency CAPMAS said on Monday.A total of 2.2 million tourists visited Egypt from April to June compared to 3.5 million during the same period last year, CAPMAS said in a statement.
Tourism, a pillar of the economy, was hit hard by an uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak on February 11 that sent tourists packing. Tourism revenues in the financial year 2010-11 were $10.6 billion compared to $11.6 billion in 2009-10.