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Ukraine seeks IMF loan of at least $1.4 bln this year

KYIV, March 19 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s Finance Ministry hopes to receive at least $1.4 billion of International Monetary Fund loans this year, the first deputy finance minister told Reuters on Friday.

Denys Uliutin also said that the country intends to continue cooperating with the IMF after a $5-billion stand-by arrangement expires at the end of the year.

The IMF approved the 18-month stand-by arrangement last June and has disbursed $2.1 billion to support financial stability in Ukraine, where the economy was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further tranches were delayed because of the slow pace of reforms.

“Regarding the IMF, we expect at least $1.4 billion (in 2021),” Uliutin said.

However, he did not answer when asked when Ukraine expects to finalise discussions with the IMF on conditions to unlock the assistance.

The IMF said last month that Ukraine had to do more to strengthen governance of the central bank, improve the legislative and regulatory framework for bank supervision and resolution and policies to reduce the medium-term fiscal deficit, as well as in reforming the judiciary, strengthening the anti-corruption framework and on energy policy.

Uliutin said that Kyiv would continue working with the IMF in the future because the country needs “expert support” to implement reforms.

“No one is going to give up cooperation with the IMF,” Uliutin said, refuting publications in some local media.

Asked whether Ukraine would request a new program next year as the current stand-by expires, he said: “We will think (about that) upon completion of this program”. (Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)