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IMF Says 638 Million Euros Available to Latvia as 2008 Loan Ends

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Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The International Monetary Fund agreed to make about 638 million euros ($832 million) available to Latvia after assessing the country’s implementation of policies attached to a 2008 loan.

The Latvian government doesn’t plan to draw on the money, the Washington-based IMF said in a statement today. The review of the Baltic country’s economy marks the end of the 1.7 billion-euro loan, which was part of an international bailout package.

“Latvia’s strong performance under the Fund-supported program has helped overcome the crisis, facilitated a return to market financing, and contributed to economic recovery,” IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton said. Now, “the focus should be on structural reforms to improve competitiveness, and preventing vulnerabilities from re-emerging.”

Latvia turned to a group led by the IMF and the European Union in late 2008 after its second-biggest bank needed a state rescue and a real-estate bubble burst. Growth this year should reach between 4.5 percent and 5 percent, the IMF said.

Still, the IMF said the country faces challenges.

“Output remains well below its pre-crisis level and Latvia’s unemployment rate, while decreasing, is still high at 14.6 percent,” the IMF said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sandrine Rastello in Washington at srastello@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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