Morocco agrees $2.4 billion loan deal with IDB

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Morocco expects to sign a $2.4 billion loan deal next month with the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB), a Moroccan official told Reuters on Tuesday.

The North African country has agreed a package with the IDB under which it will receive $600 million each year from 2013 to 2016, said the official, who declined to be named. A small part of that sum will be a donation rather than a loan.

A formal signing will be held in May.

Morocco is expected to raise around $1.5 billion this year by selling its first sukuk, or Islamic bond, with a final decision on borrowing to be taken by July, the official said.

"At the right time, we will choose the cheapest (option)," the official said. "The sukuk bonds seem more attractive for us than conventional bonds, but it depends on the markets. Who knows what could happen in three or four months?"

Parliament approved legislation allowing the government and companies to issue sukuk last January.

Morocco's budget deficit reached 22.9 billion dirhams (2.2 pct of the GDP) in the first quarter of 2013, as tax receipts fell by 5.7% to 46.25 billion dirhams - below the 50 billion dirhams estimated in the 2013 national budget.

The economy grew 4.8 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, accelerating from the previous three months as agriculture recovered after bad weather and the planning agency forecasts a 5.5 percent expansion overall in 2013.

Morocco's government has said it will limit its public debt to 60 percent of GDP despite the rising budget deficit.

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