March 24, 2020 / 7:23 AM / 7 days ago

Ukraine close to finishing IMF loan talks but won't restructure debt: finance minister

KIEV, March 24 (Reuters) - Ukraine is close to finishing talks for more loans from the International Monetary Fund but has no plans to restructure its debt to cope with the fallout from the coronavirus epidemic, Finance Minister Ihor Umansky told Reuters.

The government had provisionally agreed a $5.5 billion loan deal with the IMF in December but the money has not been disbursed yet and is contingent on Ukraine passing reforms and taking steps to tackle corruption.

The turbulence from the coronavirus epidemic has dragged down the hryvnia currency and prompted the government to ask the IMF for additional emergency assistance. The government has not disclosed how much more money it would like.

A previous crisis, triggered by Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula in 2014 and the outbreak of conflict in the eastern Donbass region, prompted Ukraine to last restructure its debts in 2015.

“As for today, questions about the restructuring of the commercial, interstate, internal, external, any debts are not discussed and have not been initiated,” Umansky told Reuters by phone early on Tuesday morning.

In December, Kiev and the IMF reached a preliminary agreement about an Extended Fund Facility programme. Umansky said the government also discussed expanding the IMF’s financial assistance.

“We are now talking about the main EFF programme. But within the framework of this programme, we are certainly holding discussions ... taking into account what is happening in Ukraine and the world, including the coronavirus.” (Reporting by Natalia Zinets; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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