Ukraine and IMF to prepare new aid programme after election: presidential official

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund have agreed to prepare a new aid programme to be ready after a snap parliamentary election in July, top presidential official Oleksandr Danylyuk said on Tuesday.

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Speaking after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met IMF officials for the first time since his inauguration last week, and only hours after being appointed as the national security and defence council’s top official, Danylyuk said he also expects Ukraine to receive the next tranche of aid after the election.

The IMF has supported Ukraine’s war-scarred economy with several aid-for-reforms programmes since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the outbreak of a Kremlin-backed separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Danylyuk’s presence in Zelenskiy’s core team is likely to reassure investors because the new appointee was a vocal advocate for reforms and cooperation with the IMF as finance minister in 2016-18.

Zelenskiy won last month’s presidential election by a landslide despite having no previous political experience. Having been fired by Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman last year, Danylyuk joined Zelenskiy’s team during the campaign.

“We presented our agenda, how we see the development of the country, how we see our cooperation. Our positions match completely,” Danylyuk told reporters.

“We agreed we will actively cooperate with the IMF and other international institutions to prepare for this summer period, during the election, a relatively new programme that will give an additional impetus to our country’s economy.”

The IMF is ready to meet the new government after the election to continue negotiations, said Ron van Rooden, head of the visiting IMF mission, according to comments published on the presidential website.

“We see no obstacles to cooperation,” he was quoted as saying.

Zelenskiy said his team had prepared a new bill on a law criminalizing illicit enrichment by officials, which he would submit to parliament this week. Parliament needs to pass such a law as a condition for more IMF money.

Danylyuk did not say whether the IMF and Zelenskiy had discussed gas prices. The IMF wants Ukraine to bring its household heating tariffs to market levels.

Separately, visiting representatives from the European Commission had talks with Zelenskiy’s team about disbursing more aid, which they said was contingent on Ukraine receiving money from the IMF, Interfax Ukraine reported.

Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party has no lawmakers in parliament, making it expedient for him to call a snap election while his popularity is high.

Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Frances Kerry, Alison Williams and David Goodman