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Costa Rican lawmakers approve $1.8 bln IMF loan

SAN JOSE, July 1 (Reuters) - Costa Rican lawmakers on Thursday approved a loan for almost $1.8 billion agreed in January with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a lifeline for the Central American nation’s economy.

Lawmakers are widely expected to give the go-ahead for the loan in a second vote due to be held on July 12.

“It’s a firm and necessary step that allows us to advance in the fiscal consolidation agenda, which provides an indispensable basis for economic recovery,” said President Carlos Alvarado. The isthmus nation ended last year with a fiscal deficit at 8.7% of GDP and an economic contraction of 4.5% as it grappled with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Reporting by Alvaro Murillo in San Jose; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)