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Ukraine can live without IMF and international loans

November 14, 2011, 21:08 UTC+3
The absence of international loans has not created problems in the country - the press service
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KIEV, November 14 (Itar-Tass) —— The Ukrainian government has been running the country without IMF loans for about a year and can do so without foreign borrowing in the future, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov’s press service said.

“The absence of international loans has not created problems in the country: the government has been fulfilling all foreign obligations scrupulously and financing all social programmes,” the press service said on Monday, November 14.

The government’s balanced economic and financial policy has allowed the government to stabilise the situation inside the country and reduce the foreign debt to GDP ratio.

“We have lived this year without problems and we will do so next one too,” the prime minister said.

He stressed that despite IMF loans, work with the International Monetary Fund “has never stopped even for a day”.

According to Azarov, “the so-called pause in borrowing occurred because of the IMF demand to raise tariffs for housing and utilities services for the population”.

The Ukrainian government has its own counterarguments, waiting for a revision of gas contracts with Russia and a “fair price for gas”.

“We have an absolutely frank dialogue with the IMF mission. We have discussed our positions very thoroughly several times, and there is full understanding [between us],” Azarov said.

Earlier, IMF permanent representative in Ukraine Max Alier said that the IMF mission, which had worked in the country from October 25 to November 3, had decided to take a break in the talks with Ukraine.

Based on the results of the visit, the mission was supposed to advised the IMF Board of Governors to finish the standby facility programme review and disburse the next portion of the loan to Ukraine.

In July 2010, the IMF approved a programme of financial aid for Ukraine until 2012 in the amount of more than 15 billion U.S. dollars. The first portion of 1.89 billion U.S. dollars was disbursed last year. However further aid was suspended, and negotiations on its resumption have been on since then.

Thanos Arvanitis, Mission Chief for Ukraine, said during his previous trip to Ukraine in February 2011 that considerable progress had been reached in the talks and resolved almost all issues.

Azerbaijan confirmed that the Ukrainian government and the IMF had reached a compromise on the majority of provisions.

The most debatable issues include pension reform, and higher tariffs for natural gas, electricity and hot water.

The government wants to raise the tariffs gradually throughout the year depending on the situation on the market, but the IMF insists that natural gas tariffs be raised by 50 percent from April 1.

Under the memorandum, Ukraine also plans to reform the pension system to make it more financial sound.

Ukraine performs and overperforms its obligations to the International Monetary Fund, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said earlier.

“The obligations we assumed with regard to the IMF are performed by 100 percent and overperformed, even though the measures we are planning today have met a controversial reaction in society,” he said.

Yanukovich said these were forced steps because no reforms had been carried out in Ukraine over 19 years of its independence.

“For 19 years there was talk of reform and a struggle for power, there were clashes and score settling,” he said, adding that Ukraine “needs to reform itself very quickly for the sake of the future.”

On July 28, 2010, the IMF Board of Governors approved a 15.15 billion U.S. dollars loan to Ukraine for 2.5 years. The previous two-year programme was approved in November 2008. Under it Ukraine received about 11 billion U.S. dollars of the intended 17 billion U.S. dollars. In the autumn of 2009, the programme was suspended because Kiev had failed to perform its obligations. Specifically it had not raised gas prices for the population.

“The goal of the authorities' economic program is to entrench fiscal and financial stability, advance structural reforms, and put Ukraine on a path of sustainable and balanced growth. Policies under the program include fiscal adjustment to contain the 2010 consolidated general government deficit to 5.5 percent of GDP in 2010 and 3.5 percent in 2011 with a view to setting public debt firmly on a declining path. The fiscal adjustment is to be achieved by tax and social security structural reforms, expenditure rationalisation combined with efforts to improve tax administration. Additional resources are allocated in the budget to protect the poorest segment of the population,” the IMF said earlier.

Financial sector reforms are focused on restoring the health of the banking system, including by ensuring an adequate level of capitalisation and strengthening the independence of the National Bank of Ukraine, Arvanitis said last July after visiting Ukraine.

“Energy sector reforms will help to strengthen the gas sector and improve Naftogaz's financial position, limiting its deficit to 1 percent of GDP in 2010 and balancing its finances in 2011, while, at the same time, protecting the most vulnerable people. Legislative reforms will be aimed at modernising the economy and improving business environment, to restore robust economic growth over the coming years,” the statement said.

Yanukovich has promised to do his best to resume cooperation with the International Monetary Fund.

“I will do everything possible to resume cooperation with the IMF, but prevent a decline in social protection,” he said.

The goals set by the Ukrainian authorities can only be achieved using cheap loans, Yanukovich said.

“This leaves only cooperation with the IMF,” the president said.

He believes that it in order to develop successful cooperation, the Ukrainian government should concentrate on the resolution of such problems as budget deficit, pension fund imbalances, and unregulated cash flows of Naftogaz Ukrainy.


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