| WASHINGTON, March 4
WASHINGTON, March 4 The United States on Tuesday
sought to use the crisis in Ukraine as leverage in its effort to
convince Congress to approve a long-sought measure to increase
the International Monetary Fund's financial power.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Ukraine would be able to
borrow more money and avert a potential default if U.S.
lawmakers signed off on the measure, which would double the
IMF's resources and give countries in crisis access to a bigger
pool of potential aid.
The Obama administration on Tuesday tucked a request for a
shift in IMF funding into the president's proposed budget for
the 2015 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
For about a year, the administration has been pushing
Congress to approve a shift of some $63 billion from an IMF
crisis fund to its general accounts in order to maintain
Washington's influence at the global lender, and to make good on
an international commitment made in 2010.
"We are working with Congress to approve the 2010 IMF quota
legislation, which would support the IMF's capacity to lend
additional resources to Ukraine, while also helping to preserve
continued U.S. leadership within this important institution,"
Lew said in a statement on Tuesday.
Congress must sign off on the IMF funding to complete the
2010 reforms, which give emerging markets a greater say.
The reform of the IMF's voting shares, known as quotas,
cannot proceed without the United States, which holds the only
controlling share of IMF votes.
The quotas determine how much each country contributes to
the IMF and how much it may borrow.
Ukraine's quota at the IMF is now about $2.1 billion but
that would increase to $3.1 billion once the 2010 reforms go
through, meaning Kiev would be able to borrow more IMF money.
The White House sought to tuck the IMF legislation into a
proposed $1 trillion federal spending bill in January but U.S.
lawmakers failed to include it in the final version.
The administration's requests have been met with skepticism
from some Republicans, who see them as tantamount to approving
fresh funding in a tight budget environment. Some lawmakers have
also raised concerns about how well the IMF was helping
struggling economies in Europe and the risks attached to IMF
But the IMF's importance may be getting a boost now that
Ukraine is in a political and economic crisis after the ouster
of its president and Russian intervention in the Crimea region.
The United States has pledged economic and technical
assistance to Kiev but said its support should go alongside an
IMF program, which is seen as critical to shore up Ukraine's
collapsing finances and get its economy on the right track.
Ukraine has asked the IMF for at least $15 billion to avert