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article imageIMF's Lagarde says likely to approve Ukraine loan after Dec 10

By AFP     Nov 28, 2018 in World

The International Monetary Fund board will meet to approve a new loan deal for Ukraine "promptly" after December 10, once the country implements key policy steps including raising gas and heating rates, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday.

Lagarde issued a statement following a telephone call with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, who earlier in the day imposed martial law for 30 days amid the escalating conflict with Russia.

The brief IMF statement made no mention of the conflict, which flared after Russia seized three Ukrainian ships on Sunday off the coast of Crimea.

"We reaffirmed the positive and cooperative relationship between Ukraine and the IMF," Lagarde said following the call.

The IMF last month reached an agreement with Kiev on economic policies that would unlock a new loan deal that will provide nearly $4 billion over 14 months.

"All prior actions are expected to be completed by the Ukrainian authorities by December 10, 2018, and a meeting of the executive board to discuss the stand-by arrangement would be convened promptly after that," Lagarde said.

A key step was approval of the 2019 budget last week with a deficit of about 2.3 percent of GDP.

A gas price hike is a sensitive issue for the cash-strapped country as its pro-Western leadership faces presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019.

But the IMF has stressed the need for continuing to protect low-income households.

Ukraine has not received any money from the IMF since April 2017, when the fund released $1 billion for the cash-strapped country to repay loans.

It had received less than $9 billion of the original $17.5 billion package.

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