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In June 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $5 billion program for Ukraine, but the program has since stalled. The IMF has made only one disbursement. Last year, Ukraine did comparatively well economically, and its macroeconomic situation appears stable and its international currency reserves larger than at any time since 2011. Economic reforms, however, have either stalled or been reversed.
Last month, the IMF concluded a month-long virtual mission with no agreement. Disagreements revolve around the country’s anti-corruption institutions, judicial reform, gas prices, national bank policy, and fiscal policy. The Ukrainian government is reluctant to carry out the reforms it committed to last June, and with its large reserves, Kyiv may be able to manage without IMF funding. Is it meaningful for the Ukrainian government and the IMF to continue their discussions, which do not appear very fruitful? If not, what should the Ukrainian government do instead? What other levers does the West have beyond the IMF to push for reform in Ukraine?
Timothy Ash, senior analyst with Bluebay Asset Management in London, Oleksandr Danyliuk, former minister of finance of Ukraine and former secretary of the National Defense and Security Council of Ukraine, Yulia Kovaliv, deputy head of the supervisory board of Naftogaz, Dr. Tymofiy Mylovanov, president of the Kyiv School of Economics, former minister of economic development, trade, and agriculture of Ukraine, and currently advisor to Andriy Yermak, chief of staff of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, all join for a discussion of Ukraine’s economic policy and relationship with the IMF. Dr. Anders Åslund, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, will moderate.
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Since the 2014 Maidan Revolution, Ukraine has undertaken significant economic reform and moved decisively toward a Europe-focused foreign policy. However, it largely failed to address state control and corruption in its economy. With the stability of global markets in doubt, Ukraine’s future economic reform is at risk.
UkraineAlert Nov 30, 2020
No IMF funding for Ukraine until Zelenskyy earns trust
By Anders Åslund
Unless Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy comprehensively changes his policies and staff, the IMF is extremely unlikely to offer his government any more credits, says Anders Åslund.