KYIV, Dec 24 – A International Monetary Fund team needs more time than usually to check the pace of reforms in Ukraine as all meetings are currently held online due to COVID pandemic, an IMF official said.
Vladyslav Rashkovan, IMF alternate executive director, said the team will extend its meetings until after the end of New Year holidays in Ukraine and will take longer than two weeks. The meeting take place online due to travel restrictions amid rising number of COVID cases worldwide.
"Taking into account the upcoming holidays, the mission began on Monday, December 21, worked three days until December 23 and will continue after the end of the New Year holidays,” Rashkovan said in a Facebook post.
“On average, the mission lasts full 10-12 working days [a little more than two calendar weeks] However, the remote work format of the mission, as well as the time difference of seven hours between Washington and Kyiv, leave only four-five hours of work for each day instead of eight-ten working hours in Kyiv during an ordinary mission. So, I do not exclude that this mission maybe a little longer," Rashkovan said.
The IMF delayed $1.4 billion in loans since July amid concerns that Ukraine has been delaying reforms and failing to combat corruption.
Ukraine is desperate to renew cooperation with the IMF as the government has been experiencing a financial crunch and resorted to massive borrowing in December to bridge financing gap. The government borrowed more than $3 billion in December alone, in mostly 6-month debt that the government hopes to repay when the IMF resumes lending.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Ukraine may be able to get IMF lending resumed in February or even March in the best case.
The team held meetings with government officials for three days last week, Rashkovan said, adding that the meetings went well.
"The progress of the negotiations is confidential information, so I never publicly comment on it and do not answer how the mission is going. I can only say that all scheduled meetings, both at the highest level and at the expert level, were held in three days and went well," Rashkovan said.
"I hope that soon [in a couple of months] we will be able to organize a conversation between the head of the IMF and the country's leadership in order to express words of mutual gratitude and respect after receiving the next tranche," Rashkovan wrote.
The IMF disbursed $2.1 billion in June after approving $5 billion loan deal to help Ukraine fight coronavirus pandemic. (tl/ez)