IMF Ukraine Aid Report Said Ready for Board Review Within Days

The International Monetary Fund’s executive board will receive within days a staff report detailing Ukraine’s proposed loan program, in an effort to approve emergency financing by early May, a board official said.

The report, which will describe the economic outlook, financing needs and policy steps Ukraine agreed to take, may trigger a request for an expedited board review, according to the official, who spoke about private discussions on condition of anonymity. That means a typical two-week period for the board to study the report may be cut in half, with a vote next week, the person said.

The IMF is leading a $27 billion international loan package with a contribution of as much as $18 billion, which was agreed to in principle almost four weeks ago. The fund is seeking to complete its report as a multinational agreement with Russia to ease tensions in the former Soviet republic showed signs of collapse.

“Normally what we assess is the sustainability of the debt,” Paulo Nogueira Batista, who represents Brazil and 10 other countries on the 24-member board, said in a telephone interview today. “What’s in doubt here is the sustainability of the political situation.”

Under IMF rules, board members are given two weeks to review loan packages. Nogueira Batista said that he asked for enough time to consider the specifics of the program. While it’s not uncommon for fund staff to ask for a shorter circulation period, that request hasn’t happened yet, he said.

Political Concerns

IMF spokeswoman Conny Lotze declined to comment, referring questions about timing to recent statements by IMF officials that the board meeting would take place at the end of April or beginning of May.

Reza Moghadam, the head of the European department, said at an April 11 press conference that there was still “work to do in terms of finalizing some of the actions and ensuring the program is financed.”

The IMF also has a list of measures Ukraine needs to take before the first disbursement can be approved. Parliament earlier this month approved laws to raise utility prices and improve transparency in state procurement.

Russia will demand advance payments for gas supplies to Ukraine unless the country resumes paying its bills, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said today. The move, which would cut off gas from Ukraine unless it resumed payments to Russia, would “be a tough but fair decision,” Medvedev said in Russia’s State Duma.

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