IMF poised to revamp partnership program with Ukraine
The head of...
The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, wants either to resume the former partnership program with Ukraine or "build something different."
"It depends upon the results of the mission we have now in Ukraine," the IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in an interview with RIA Novosti. "It depends also upon the good will of the government to implement the necessary reform."
However, the final decision as to the format of partnership should be left with the Ukrainian government. "It`s very much the Ukrainian government`s choice," he said.
Strauss-Kahn said the IMF is posed to intensify its partnership with Ukraine despite almost a 6-month break caused by the presidential elections.
"Because of the election process we have lost... the Ukraine has lost about six months, which is understandable. On the other hand, the six-month loss is a six-month loss and we need to speed up the process and I will be more than happy to discuss with the Ukrainian authorities the design either of revamping the formal program or of a new program."
The former program, he said, had borne fruit, in particular in bolstering up Ukraine`s fragile banking sector. However, it is the Ukrainian government who has the last say, he noted, adding that if Kiev "does not ask anything we are not imposing the program."
"We have already disbursed an important amount of money to help the Ukrainian economy. I think it worked well, the banking sector has been restructurized, lots of things has been done in Ukraine, which has improved the situation."
"Still it is a very difficult situation for Ukrainian people. Now I do believe that it`s interest of Ukraine to resume as fast as possible the relationship with IMF."
Conversely, the director of the IMF`s European Department, Marek Belka, said he did not expect a new agreement between the IMF and Ukraine to be reached after the fund`s mission finished its work in Kiev on April 2, adding it was something that had yet to be decided.
"It is not clear whether an old program will just be continued or the new one will be prepared.
"We wanted first to get acquainted with the new people, their program and also see what happened in the few months when we took a pause in our program with Ukraine," he said.
Whether new or old, the program`s elements will remain unchanged, Belka said.
"First, some degree of fiscal discipline, a continuation of the reform of the financial sector and putting in order the gas sector...Without it Ukraine will not resume sustainable growth," he commented.
However, he was hopeful that Ukraine`s new leadership would seek to construct a new program.
"Probably, we can expect the government of Ukraine to ask us for a successor program. We take note of the government`s wish, but ... [we] have to look a little bit further. It depends on what is needed, it also depends on how determined the Ukrainian government is to continue reforms."
Belka said the IMF could send another mission to Kiev if need be, without specifying a timeframe. He also called on Kiev to go on with reforms in the financial sector, as well as sort up its chaotic gas sphere.
He said there were two immediate steps to be taken, the first being "to bring the prices on gas ... to economic levels" and make sure that "the prices should cover the cost."
The other step is to ensure "the transparent management of the sector, of Naftagas [Ukraine`s national energy company]."
Belka said the IMF was "determined to help... the Ukrainian government," adding that while the Ukrainian economy had seen hard times recently, it had generally "bottomed out" and shown "encouraging signs."
He noted that the hryvnia, Ukraine`s national currency, had by and large been stable over the 6-month hiatus.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister on Economic Issues Sergei Tigipko said last week Ukraine had requested a $5 billion loan from IMF in 2010.
"The sum was not discussed, but I think we should discuss this sum in terms of the quantities which have been announced by the government - it is around $5 billion," Irina Akimova, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, told RIA Novosti.
Ukraine`s current stand-by program amounts to $16.4 billion, with $11 billion already installed in three tranches. The fourth tranche of $3.8 billion was due in 2009 but has not yet been installed.
In early March, the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, called on Ukraine`s recently elected president Viktor Yanukovych to resume talks with the IMF on the $16.4 billion loan. He said the EU would provide Ukraine with a $0.7 billion in financial aid if the talks succeed.