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To Ukraine, IMF Enables $1.39B, No Word On Lagarde Probe

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 29, updated -- The International Monetary Fund on the morning of August 29 announced

IMF Completes First Review Under Stand-By Arrangement for Ukraine and Approves US$1.39 Billion Disbursement
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today completed the first review of Ukraine’s performance under an economic program supported by a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA). The completion of this review enables the disbursement of SDR 914.67 million (about US$1.39 billion), which would bring total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR 2.97 billion (about US$4.51 billion).

Ukraine’s two-year SDR 10.97 billion (about US$16.67 billion) SBA was approved on April 30, 2014 (see Press Release No. 14/189) to support the government’s economic program, which aims to restore macroeconomic stability, strengthen economic governance and transparency, and launch sound and sustainable economic growth while protecting the vulnerable groups.

  Update: now the full longer press release is online here.

  At the IMF's embargoed briefing on August 28,

 most questions concerned IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde being under investigation -- she will brief the IMF Board “very soon,” Rice said, calling it “highly unlikely” it would be on August 29 along with the Board's meeting on Ukraine -- Inner City Press also asked about Yemen, Ghana, Pakistan -- and ebola, IMF transcript here:

Has the IMF produced any estimates of the impact of the ebola crisis? Any IMF responses to it?”

  Rice read out the question, then said that ebola's "acute impacts" are “macro-economic” and social, hitting three “already fragile” countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone). He said "growth is likely to slow sharply in all three cases" and significant financial needs will rise: "increased poverty and food insecurity" and impacts on employment in the key agricultural sector.

  Rice concluded, "We are actively working with all three countries to prepare... additional financing that may be required."

  On Pakistan, Inner City Press has asked “former finance minister Hafiz Pasha has said, 'This is not the time for the IMF to push for an increase in power prices as people are talking about civil disobedience and agitating against the government on the streets.' What is the IMF's response?”

  Rice said that the fourth review of Pakistan continued, albeit in Dubai and now by video-conference from Washington.

  On Ghana, Inner City Press had asked “Convention People’s Party chair Samia Nkrumah has said, 'It will be erroneous to accept the fact that IMF conditionalities could not be rejected since in 1965, Ghana, under the First President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, rejected the proposal of the IMF when they recommended the sale of national assets such as factories in exchange for a loan.' What is the IMF's response?”

  Rice said that the IMF team will be in Accra in September. On Yemen Inner City Press had asked, “it is reported that the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation estimates that cutting fuel subsidies could lead to an additional 500,000 Yemenis falling under the poverty line. What is the IMF's response to that, and to current protests of the cut in subsidies?” Rice described the request for a program.

On Lagarde, Rice said there will be a board briefing - Brazil's rep has called it a serious matter - but that he could predict nothing about what would happen. Nor about Ukraie, on which Inner City Press asked:

"On Ukraine, does the IMF agree with the view that 'as capital flight has accelerated, the country's official international reserves have been depleted and the Ukrainian currency now has depreciated by more than 30 percent since the start of the year. This has brought the currency to a level that the IMF itself considers to be dangerous for the solvency of the Ukrainian banking system” and that “it now appears that Ukraine's GDP will decline by more of the order of 10 percent in 2014 rather than by the 5 percent that initially had been assumed in the IMF program'?"

   The IMF Board meets on August 29. Watch this site.


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