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IMF holds $1b loan for Ukraine due to trade block

IMF holds $1b loan for Ukraine due to trade block

KIEV: The International Monetary Fund will not approve a new $1 billion loan payment for Ukraine on Monday as scheduled, due to “recent developments” in the country, the IMF confirmed.

In Kiev, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko slammed as “absolutely irresponsible” the trade blockade imposed on the Russian-backed rebel eastern regions by the country’s politicians, which led to the delayed loan installment for the cash-strapped nation.

“The IMF Executive Board meeting on Ukraine scheduled for Monday, March 20 has been postponed to allow staff time to assess the implications of recent developments for the program,” the fund said in a statement.

The IMF in early March agreed on the review of the oft-delayed, $17.5 billion loan program first agreed in 2015, but the country will have to wait longer to get the next installment, which requires board approval.

The loan has seen delays due to the government’s failure to implement reforms, but now has been impacted by last week’s decision by the former Soviet nation to halt trade with pro-Moscow insurgents that it has been battling since 2014.

Poroshenko said he will hold a meeting on Monday with his prime minister, finance minister and central bank chief “in order to correct the results caused by an absolutely irresponsible behavior of Ukrainian state-mongers.”

He said “the aftermath of the blockade,” caused the loan delay. “We must unite our efforts to receive the tranche in the nearest time.”

The pro-Western leadership in Kiev took the drastic step after rebels seized dozens of Ukrainian-owned businesses on their territory in response to a trade blockade by nationalist protesters.

Kiev also slapped sanctions on the Ukrainian subsidiaries of five Russian banks — including state-run giants Sberbank and VTB — in part over Moscow’s decision to officially recognize identity documents issued by the rebels.