(MENAFN) Egyptian Petroleum Minister Osama Kamal said that the government couldn't make reforms on its costly state energy subsidy until it completes more studies and holds a "social dialogue" on the issue, Reuters reported.
He said in an interview that his country would have a major economic problem until the subsidies bill, which represents about a quarter of state spending, is cut.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cannot negotiate the USD4.8 billion loan with Egypt until the latter presents a plan to cut its ballooning budget deficit, which the government is still holding off until it figures how to cut public spending, including targeting subsidies more toward the needy.
Economists say any delay to tackling cash-strapped Egypt could jeopardise IMF support and trigger renewed pressure on the pound currency.
Last month, Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said he expected an IMF deal within two months and that Egypt would introduce rationing for subsidised butane cooking gas by mid-October.
But the IMF delayed loan talks; scheduled September-end, to give Egypt more time to come out with a plan to lower its widening budget deficit, and Egypt's finance minister said its next visit would not take place before the second half of October.