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IMF Goes "All Ukraine," Adds 3 EU - Africa & Latin America Ignored

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 27, updated -- Ukraine was the topic of the International Monetary Fund's biweekly press briefing on Thursday morning. It is usually entirely embargoed until 10:30 am, but spokesperson Gerry Rice said his opening reading of Christine Lagarde's response to Ukraine's request for a program was not under embargo.

  Lagarde referred to an "independent assessment of the economic situation in Ukraine," but it seems more political than financial. Rice noted that UK foreign secretary William Hague was at the Fund, and his Germany counterpart will be there  tomorrow.

  Then next week the IMF team will be "on the ground" in Ukraine, first led by the deputy of the IMF's European division, with the director arriving later. Rice to one question said the answer is on the IMF's web site; to another he said, "that's a question for the Ukrainian authorities."

  Just as IMF reporters migrated to the US State Department earlier in the week, on Thursday morning a "newbie" in the IMF briefing read out a question verbatim from her cell phone. Mega-media.

 Rice took a Ukraine question online from the Financial Times, then in the name of broadening the briefing took questions on Greece, Portugal and Italy. Yes, these are all in Europe.

  Inner City Press submitted questions on South Sudan, Bolivia, Israel and one in Europe: Romania. None were answered by embargo deadline. It's all Ukraine, all the time.

On South Sudan, how has the fighting impacted the country's oil production and its economy? What if anything is the IMF prepared to do?

Bolivia's VP at the UN this week told Inner City Press he's PROUD of his country's pro-poor policies and doesn't care what the IMF's article IV says. What's your response, and does the new IMF study on the potential benefit of redistributing wealth change your view on Bolivia?

On Israel, IMF has been warning of a housing bubble. Are housing units in the settlements considered, and are they also overvalued? How does the IMF expect the boycott and divestment movement to impact on Israel's economy?

On Romania, the program to re-schedule the bank debts of lower-income consumers [on which the IMF belatedly answered Inner City Press on February 10], is it or will it be in the IMF's letter of intent? If not, how will the IMF review it?

The myopia of the IMF under Christine Lagarde continues. What ABOUT South Sudan? Watch this site.

Update: after embargo deadline, the IMF Communications office sent this to Inner City Press:

"Thanks for your inquiry on Romania. This is a proposal by the government for which the details have not yet been elaborated. It is not part of the LOI. As with other policy initiatives, the IMF will discuss it with the authorities."

It's appreciated. But what about South Sudan?


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