Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian prime minister, said her government had unilaterally adopted initiatives needed to unlock an International Monetary Fund loan for her recession-battered country after MPs failed to adopt conditions.
The development comes after months of tough talks with IMF officials and amid heightened concerns that Ukraine may plunge deeper into financial disarray without IMF support. Kiev’s feuding lawmakers have, in recent months, failed to adopt legislation needed to unfreeze a $16.4bn IMF standby loan granted last autumn.
The first IMF tranche of $4.5bn granted last year helped to stabilise Ukraine, one of the world’s economies hardest hit by recession. But the IMF has delayed additional disbursements amid relentless political bickering and concerns over Kiev’s fiscal prudence.
Speaking at an extraordinary cabinet meeting, Ms Tymoshenko accused her bitter rival Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine’s president, of sabotaging plans for parliament to adopt IMF-related legislation. Ms Tymoshenko said her government had adopted the needed measures as cabinet resolutions hours after parliament failed to do so. Ukrainian legal experts said it was unclear if Kiev’s government had such authority.
Ms Tymoshenko said the resolutions were legal and binding. She slammed Mr Yushchenko, saying: “The vote in parliament was consciously and cynically sabotaged [by lawmakers] which are controlled by the president.”
Mr Yushchenko pointed the blame at Ms Tymoshenko, while his allies in parliament publicly pledged not to support the government’s initiatives.
Ms Tymoshenko’s government is formally backed by a hairline majority in parliament. Her foes, including other parties, have refused to back the three IMF-related laws that are aimed at balancing the finances of Ukraine’s budget, pension fund and state gas company.
IMF representatives have in recent months urged Kiev’s politicians to consolidate behind a single anti-crisis strategy, but have not taken sides with either political grouping.
But sitting alongside Ms Tymoshenko at a press conference, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, IMF mission chief to Ukraine, said the IMF would closer study the government resolutions adopted, and carefully added: “As the prime minister said, perhaps this is the way to go given the political circumstances.”
Ms Pazarbasioglu said that “it is encouraging to see progress is being made” in handling Ukraine’s economic woes. But she could not say when fresh IMF cash would make its way to Kiev.
Kiev’s currency has stabilised in recent months after losing about 40 per cent of its value immediately after the global financial crisis struck. Unemployment in this country of 46 million citizens has doubled to about 1 million. Ukraine’s banking system remains shaky after citizens withdrew about a third of deposits and struggle to pay loans.
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