* “Productive discussions” held - IMF mission chief
* Ukraine needs loan to service $9 bln foreign debt
KIEV, April 10 (Reuters) - The IMF will continue talks with Ukraine on a $15 billion stand-by loan in the coming weeks after a series of “productive discussions”, the Fund’s mission said on Wednesday as it wound up a visit to Kiev.
The former Soviet republic, which needs the loan to prop up foreign currency reserves and refinance about $9 billion in foreign state debt falling due this year, started talks with the Fund in January.
“The key building blocks of a new programme would be measures to reduce Ukraine’s fiscal and external current account deficits, and energy sector and banking reforms, in order to create the conditions for sustained economic growth and job creation in Ukraine,” mission head Chris Jarvis said in a statement.
“The mission made good progress in discussing these issues, and our dialogue will continue in the coming weeks.”
A previous $15 billion programme was frozen in early 2011 after the Kiev government refused to raise the heavily subsidised household gas and heating prices.
The gas price remains one the main stumbling blocks in the way of a new loan deal as President Viktor Yanukovich’s government continues to resist calls for unpopular austerity measures, analysts say.
But favourable conditions on the global capital markets - propped up by liquidity injections from major central banks - are strengthening Ukraine’s hand, allowing it to issue Eurobonds at relatively low rates.
This week, Ukraine sold a $1.25 billion, 10-year bond with a yield of 7.5 percent. In January, it placed a $1 billion bond with the same maturity at 7.625 percent.