Reuters: IMF leaves Ukraine without announcing aid deal
An IMF mission has left Ukraine without announcing a deal on new aid but a top central bank official said on Thursday he expected an agreement "in the near future" that would help preserve financial stability during 2019, an election year.
Analysts expressed surprise at the lack of an IMF statement at the end of the visit, which ran from September 6 to 19, Reuters said.
An IMF spokesman in Washington later said discussions were ongoing, without saying when they might be completed.
The IMF has been pushing Ukraine to raise household gas prices, which have been kept artificially low since Soviet times, to market levels. It was not immediately clear whether the two sides had made progress in their talks on this issue.
"There are productive negotiations on the new programme. Significant progress has been made. We expect results in the near future," Deputy Central Bank Governor Oleh Churiy told Reuters, in the first public comments by a senior Ukrainian official a day after the mission concluded its visit.
"(There are) talks on a new IMF programme that will allow Ukraine to pass the election year freely and maintain financial stability," Churiy said.
A new agreement would give the government some breathing space to manage its debt payments, which are set to peak over the next two years. It would help keep the currency stable and retain the confidence of investors and Ukraine's foreign allies.
It would replace a $17.5 billion aid-for-reforms programme that has propped up Ukraine's economy since 2015 through a sharp recession following Russia's annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of separatist fighting in the Donbass region.
"We've had a staff team in Kyiv, discussing with the Ukrainian authorities the continuation of our efforts to support policies and reforms, support macroeconomic stability and growth in Ukraine, and on possible financial assistance from the Fund," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters.
"I don't have any further detail on those discussions, which are ongoing as I said, and I don't have a specific date for the conclusion."
He did not say whether the IMF had offered Ukraine a new standby agreement or whether the conditions for such a deal would differ from the old one.