Ukraine requests fresh IMF bailout: Lagarde
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has asked the IMF for a new and broader rescue package, IMF head Christine Lagarde said on Wednesday as the war-torn country fights to save its reeling economy.
Lagarde met Poroshenko on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos and said Ukraine requested that the Washington-based IMF deepen its relationship with Kiev.
The meeting took place soon after Poroshenko told an audience of the world's financial elite in Davos that 9,000 Russian troops were backing Ukrainian separatist fighters.
"President Poroshenko informed me today that the Ukrainian authorities have requested a multi-year arrangement with the Fund... to replace the existing... arrangement," the IMF said in a statement.
"We will consult with the IMF Executive Board on the authorities' request," Lagarde said.
The IMF, which last year granted Kiev $17 billion (13.6 billion euros) in financial aid over two years as part of a broader $27 billion global rescue package, has expressed fears that the former Soviet country may need an additional $15 billion in immediate aid.
The Ukrainian government said the request was key to turning around the war-torn economy.
The new programme "will allow us to gain access to additional resources, which in turn will enable us to return to economic growth, restore adequate foreign exchange reserves, and ensure economic and financial stability going forward," said Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko.
Ukraine's foreign lenders, which besides the IMF include the European Union, World Bank and Japan, want deep cuts to welfare services and a hike in energy prices to help balance the books.
The architects of the aid package had hoped to use it as an incentive for Ukraine to wean itself off communist-era subsidies long abandoned by its smaller but now far better-off neighbours in eastern Europe.
The IMF also wants to see loss-making state firms privatised and graft that has permeated both ministries and local governments comprehensively punished instead of having their wrongdoings swept under the rug.
But few of those steps have yet been taken.
© 2015 AFP