IMF and Ukraine reach tentative US$5.5b aid deal

Kristalina Georgieva (centre), the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, gestures during a conference co-organised by the IMF on sustainable development and debt, in Diamniadio, Senegal, December 2, 2019. — AFP pic
Kristalina Georgieva (centre), the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, gestures during a conference co-organised by the IMF on sustainable development and debt, in Diamniadio, Senegal, December 2, 2019. — AFP pic

WASHINGTON, Dec 8 — The International Monetary Fund said yesterday it had reached a “staff-level” agreement with Ukraine on a new US$5.5 billion, three-year aid program for the war-scarred country.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said she was “pleased to note that IMF staff has reached agreement with the authorities” on the deal, adding it was “subject to IMF management approval.”

Georgieva said she spoke by telephone yesterday to President Volodymyr Zelensky and commended him on “impressive progress” on reforms and “sound economic policies.”

“The President and I agreed that Ukraine’s economic success depends crucially on strengthening the rule of law, enhancing the integrity of the judiciary, and reducing the role of vested interests,” she said.

She added that it was “paramount to safeguard the gains made in cleaning up the banking system and recover the large costs to the taxpayers from bank resolutions.”

The IMF and other international donors have repeatedly pressed Kiev to attract much-needed investment by addressing pervasive corruption and reducing the power of oligarchs.

But bankers and analysts said they fear the current authorities are targeting former bankers who have helped clean up the market instead of the oligarch owners of banks that go bankrupt.

At his inauguration in May, the 41-year-old president — a former comedian — urged people with Ukrainian heritage to return home and help build a “new, strong and successful Ukraine.”

The country is in the spotlight due to the impeachment proceedings against US President Donald Trump.

Trump is accused of abusing his office by pressuring Ukraine to find dirt on former US vice president Joe Biden, his potential challenger in the 2020 election.

The White House maintains Trump was simply encouraging the new government of Ukraine to rein in corruption.

More than 13,000 people have been killed in Ukraine’s conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the industrial east which broke out shortly after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014. — AFP

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