UKRAINE WAS APPROVED IMF: $17 BLN
The International Monetary Fund on Friday approved the latest payment to Ukraine in its $US17 billion ($A18.2bn) bailout program, providing a critical boost to Kiev as it faces military, economic and political threats.
The IMF said its board approved a $US1.39bn payment, which will bring total disbursements under the program to $US4.51bn.
Months after Russia moved to annex the Crimea region this spring, Ukraine is fighting a growing Russia-backed military force along its eastern borders. Moscow has denied military involvement, blaming the fighting against Kiev on volunteers, separatist fighters and some disoriented Russian troops.
On the economic front, Russia's energy minister said Friday that negotiations on Ukraine's gas debt can't start until Kiev pays $US1.45bn of debt to Russian gas giant OAO Gazprom.
For Ukraine's government, the onset of cold winter months could exacerbate an already fragile outlook, with the economy battered by months of turmoil and civil war in the east of the country.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk this week called for swift steps to stabilise the hryvnia, the local currency, which has fallen steeply in the last year. The IMF backs a flexible exchange rate rather than the peg to the dollar that Kiev previously maintained.
In July, Ukraine's ruling coalition broke up, setting the stage for parliamentary elections that could strengthen the hand of President Petro Poroshenko as he backs a fight against the insurgency in the east.
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IMF - Output grew by 3.8 percent in 2017, underpinned by a resilient non-hydrocarbon sector, with robust implementation of GCC-funded projects as well as strong activity in the financial, hospitality, and education sectors. The banking system remains stable with large capital buffers. Growth is projected to decelerate over the medium term.
IMF - Higher oil prices and short-term portfolio inflows have provided relief from external and fiscal pressures but the recovery remains challenging. Inflation declined to its lowest level in more than two years. Real GDP expanded by 2 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter of last year. However, activity in the non-oil non-agricultural sector remains weak as lower purchasing power weighs on consumer demand and as credit risk continues to limit bank lending.