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For Ukraine, IMF Delivers $17.01B For 2 Years, $3.19B Right Now

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 30 -- The International Monetary Fund has as predicted come through with cash for Ukraine: $17.01 billion over two years, and $3.19 billion available immediately. The IMF sent this statement to the Press:

IMF Executive Board Approves 2-Year US$17.01 Billion Stand-By Arrangement for Ukraine, US$3.19 Billion for immediate Disbursement

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a two-year Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) for Ukraine. The arrangement amounts to SDR 10.976 billion (about US$17.01 billion, 800 percent of quota) and was approved under the Fund's exceptional access policy. The authorities’ economic program supported by the Fund aims to restore macroeconomic stability, strengthen economic governance and transparency, and launch sound and sustainable economic growth, while protecting the most vulnerable.

The approval of the SBA enables the immediate disbursement of SDR 2.058 billion (about US$3.19 billion), with SDR 1.29 billion (about US$2 billion) being allocated to budget support. The second and third disbursements will be based on bi-monthly reviews and performance criteria, and the remainder of the program period will be subject to standard quarterly reviews and performance criteria.

  Back on April 24 the IMF said it expected to approve a $14-18 billion program for Ukraine on April 30, while still including Crimea in its Ukraine data, IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said at the IMF's embargoed briefing on April 24.

  Rice said the IMF expects its $14-18 billion to "unlock" $15 billion in financial assurances that have already been made by others, whom he did not name. He said that the IMF has now received from Kyiv documents covering all "prior actions" or conditions imposed by the IMF.

  Asked if sanctions imposed to "punish" Russia might harm Ukraine, Rice said the IMF position is that current US and European Union sanctions on Russia are unlikely to have a significant effect on the Ukrainian economy. He said the IMF believes the more substantial risk is from the possible further escalation of tensions.

  On the IMF still including Crimea in its Ukraine data, Rice would not explain except to add that Crimea is only 3.7% of its Ukrainian data. Asked for analogies to lending to Ukraine at this time, Rice cited past IMF programs in Bosnia, Sri Lanka and Peru, calling them "fragile" and with "political tensions."

While the IMF answered three of the six questions Inner City Press submitted during the briefing, its question concerning whether the IMF still includes Abkhazia and South Ossetia in its Georgia data was not answered -- nor whether it includes Western Sahara in its Morocco data.

  The inclusion of Crimea in the IMF's Ukraine data raises the question of the relation between the UN General Assembly vote, with 58 abstentions, on the Crimean referendum and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the US Congress' refusal to pass the IMF quota reforms which US President Obama agreed to in 2010.

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