IMF says Ukrainian officials committed to reforms

WASHINGTON Fri Mar 7, 2014 11:08am EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund mission to Ukraine is "progressing well" and Ukrainian authorities are committed to economic reforms, a senior IMF official said on Friday after a visit to the country.

Reza Moghadam, the director of the IMF's European Department, visited Kiev as part of the Fund's fact-finding mission to study Ukraine's finances. Ukrainian officials say they are close to bankruptcy and have asked for international aid.

"I am positively impressed with the authorities' determination, sense of responsibility and commitment to an agenda of economic reform and transparency," Moghadam said in a statement.

The IMF is looking for signs Ukraine's new leaders are more committed to reforms than their predecessors. Several IMF bailouts for Ukraine went off track after previous governments failed to follow through on reform pledges.

Moghadam added the IMF "stands ready" to help Ukraine and put its economy on a path of sustainable growth.

Ukraine's government coffers have been depleted by huge debt repayments, efforts to protect its currency and high energy costs. The country is also struggling to cope with a crisis in Crimea, where the parliament voted on Thursday to join Russia.

Support from the Washington-based IMF is seen as critical to shore up Ukraine's collapsing finances and get its economy on the right track. The United States and European Union say they are willing to provide funds alongside an IMF program. Russia also supports the Fund's involvement.

Ukraine's finance minister said he hoped the IMF would work on an aid package of at least $15 billion. That figure would be in line with the IMF's last loan to Ukraine in 2010, which was frozen a year later after Kiev failed to implement the required reforms, including removing gas price subsidies.

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kiev; Editing by James Dalgleish and Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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