CAIRO - The International Monetary Fund's loan programme with Egypt should help the country gradually reduce its debt burden, an IMF official said on Thursday.

"We gradually expect with implementation of the programme, improvement of balance sheets, and increase in inflows that Egypt will be able to reduce and pay back part of its debt," IMF Middle East and Central Asia director Jihad Azour told a news briefing.

The IMF expects Egypt's debt-to-GDP ratio to drop to 82.6% next year from 92.4% this year, and the trend should continue downward, Azour added.

"This is also one of the main pillars of our programme to allow Egypt to gradually reduce the burden of debt," he said.

Last month, the IMF said it would increase its current loan programme with Egypt by $5 billion.

The new agreement is an expansion of the $3 billion, 46-month Extended Fund Facility that the IMF struck with Egypt in December 2022.

As part of the agreement, Egypt recveived $820 million from the IMF earlier following the conclusion of a second review of the programme late last month, with the country expected to receive another $820 million following a third review within three months, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told Asharq television on Thursday.

(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah and Hatem Maher; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Chizu Nomiyama)