Ukraine seeks euro500 mln from EBRD

12:44, 18 February 2009
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President Yushchenko met with the EBRD chief

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Wednesday met with the chief of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development amid efforts to secure a euro500 million investment package to rescue this ex-Soviet republic`s devastated economy, AP reported.

The bank is considering investing the money into recapitalizing some Ukrainian banks, shaken by the global credit crunch and a confidence crisis. Three Ukrainian banks have been put in receivership and another one has been sold to a Russian institution after being taken over by the central bank.

The economy is struggling to stay afloat after the International Monetary Fund withheld a key second tranche of a $16.4 loan over a failure to meet loan obligations earlier this month, prompting Kiev to turn to G-7 members and Russia for aid.

The loan problems led the international rating agency Fitch to downgrade Ukraine`s ratings, while another agency, Standard and Poor`s, threatened a similar move.

The IMF said Ukraine had failed to cut government spending and reconsidering this year`s budget, as had been agreed on. Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk resigned last week in a row with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko over the same concerns.

Yushchenko told EBRD President Thomas Mirow that a failure to receive the expected $12 bln in aid from the IMF this year could severely hurt the economy and that is why Ukraine was turning to the EBRD for help.

"The situation is complicated," Yushchenko told Mirow, according to the Interfax news agency.

Industrial output slumped by a staggering 34.1 percent in January, year-over-year, in what officials said was the biggest fall in the country`s history.

The national currency, the hryvna, has lost 40 percent of its value since last fall, due to a drastic fall in exports.

The crisis, coupled with a higher gas bill from Russia has also led to gas shortages in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk and the southern Crimea peninsula. Officials said, however, that hot water and heating supplies had been restored in most households in those regions by Wednesday morning.

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