IMF spokeswoman Wafa Amr told the AP that the fund is waiting to receive an updated economic program from Egypt before discussing the timing of a possible mission to Cairo.
‘‘As we have said before, we are willing to provide financial assistance for an economic program that addresses the current economic and financial challenges, is socially balanced, and has broad ownership so that it can be implemented by the government,’’ she said.
Without the IMF loan, Egypt is not expected to finalize talks for a $900 million loan from the European Union, $500 million from the African Development Bank and $450 million from the United States. It is also in talks for $1 billion from Turkey.
William Jackson, an economist with Capital Economics, told the AP that the IMF could be willing to help Egypt even if reserves continue to fall because it does not want to see the regional heavyweight fall deeper into crisis.
‘‘I suspect because of its geopolitical importance that a lot of countries will support it financially so it doesn’t have a full blown crisis,’’ Jackson said about IMF support for Egypt.
The delay and new reserve figures threaten Egypt’s ability to pay for imports and keep the local currency from sharply depreciating.
Egypt is the world’s largest importer of wheat, which provides subsidized bread for millions. Nearly half the population of roughly 85 million lives at or below the poverty line of $2 a day and relies on the government to subsidize basic commodities.
If Egypt’s economic distress deepens, there are fears that this could drive even more unrest on the streets.
‘‘Bread! Freedom! Social Justice!’’ was among the most popular rallying cries of the 2011 uprising that ousted authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak from power and has been heard again in recent protests against Morsi.
The central bank has been using foreign reserves to prop up the pound at a level many experts saw as overvalued.
Hoarding and speculation by worried residents prompted the bank to implement a new auction system in December, which helped cushion the decline of pound. The currency has fallen more than 7 percent against the dollar in the past two months of turmoil.
London-based Capital Economics said Tuesday that Egypt’s reserves underline the limited firepower that authorities have to stem depreciation pressures on the pound. The group said it presumes the pound will fall to 7.5 to the dollar in the coming months, threatening higher inflation and more economic pain.
The banker with inside knowledge said the central bank does not have enough dollars to supply the local market’s demands. He pointed to the central bank’s tightening of the sale of dollars this week as a sign of falling reserves and the struggle to continue propping up the pound.
Associated Press writer Brian Rohan contributed to this report.