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On Ukraine, IMF No Comment on MH17, Lagarde Calls Yatz & Poroshenko

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 25 -- At the International Monetary Fund's July 24 embargoed briefing, Inner City Press asked IMF  Deputy Spokesperson William Murray:

Inner City Press: "On Ukraine, what is the IMF's estimate or thoughts on the impact of the downing in Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Eastern Ukraine, and its impact, if any, on the IMF's program?

MR. MURRAY: You know, we're concerned about conflict in the region and a statement we issued the other day addresses that issue.

 But what about MH17 and its aftermath? (The IMF did substantively answer Inner City Press' Gaza and Israel question, here).

  On Ukraine, on July 25, an IMF spokesperson said:

"Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, had telephone conversations with President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk today. The discussions focused on the implications of the recent political developments in Ukraine for economic policies, in particular for the authorities ability to implement the program that is being supported by a Stand-By Arrangement. The Managing Director encouraged steady implementation of the authorities’ reform program, including the policy package recently agreed with Fund staff.”

 Back on July 1 in the International Monetary Fund's Article IV report on Russia, just out from under embargo on July 1, the IMF recounts sanctions and counter-sanctions but not its own role in Ukraine including austerity conditions imposed.

   The IMF recites how the US, EU, Japan, Switzerland, and other countries “have adopted sanctions against Ukrainian and Russian individuals and entities in response to the unfolding situation in Ukraine, as well as the suspension of bilateral negotiations on a variety of topics.”

   Then, the IMF continues, “on March 20 and March 24, Russia imposed retaliatory sanctions on U.S. and Canadian government officials. Russia also passed a bill to create a national payment system insulated from foreign companies’ influence, and is considering the creation of a national rating agency.”

  So is that a good thing? The IMF doesn't say.

   When the IMF released its Article IV review of the United States, it held a press conference with Christine Lagarde (at which, to her credit, she called for the US Federal Reserve to communicate better).

  On Russia, there was not press conference, just the embargoed publication of the report. The IMF will hold a July 2 press conference about Bangladesh, in Dhaka - but it is not clear it will be webcast. If even street protests are live-streamed, why not this? Watch this site.

Footnote: these questions remain unanswered by the IMF:

On Slovakia, what is IMF's response to Finance Minister Peter Kazimir insisting the government will base its decision-making on Slovak legislation stating that the VAT rate should be reduced automatically when the public-finance deficit falls below three percent of GDP?

On Morocco, can you confirm what central bank governor Abdellatif Jouahri has said, that a new two-year line of credit is being finalized and will “be less than $6.2 billion granted by the fund in 2012-2014”? And again, is Western Sahara included in the IMF's Morocco data? (As submitted)

In Yemen, in light of attacks on power plants and pipelines, what is the status of the IMF's $550 program and its conditions? Is there a concern the cuts to subsidies could lead to further unrest?

In Myanmar, does IMF believe the country is ready for the opening of foreign financial institution, while governance of the Central Bank of Myanmar continue to fall under Myanmar's outgoing central banking law, dating to 1990?


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