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IMF announces multi-billion finance program for Ukraine

While in Berlin for meetings with the German Chancellor, the IMF managing director Christine Lagarde announced a multi-billion finance program for Ukraine. She praised the country's "fiscal discipline."

Western nations have proposed a $40 billion (37.9 billion euros) aid program for Ukraine. About $17.5 billion was expected from the IMF.

While in Berlin on Wednesday, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde

issued a statement

to say the IMF Executive Board had approved $17.5 billion (15.5 billion euros) for Ukraine "based on a comprehensive economic reform program supported by the Fund as well as by additional resources from the international community."

Lagarde said that Ukraine had "maintained fiscal discipline in very difficult conditions."

The plan replaces a $17 billion bailout that was extended last year to help stabilize Ukraine's economy hit by political upheaval and the pro-Moscow separatist uprising in the east of the country.

"The Ukrainian authorities continue to demonstrate a strong commitment to reform" the statement continued. It added that "To help cushion the impact of adjustment, especially for the poorest groups, measures are being taken to strengthen and better target the social safety net."

Lagarde said she was "heartened that the cease-fire agreed last month in Minsk seems to be largely holding for now, and hope that a further loss of life can be avoided."

Chancellor Angela Merkel also met OECD Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in Berlin on Wednesday to discuss global economic issues.

jm/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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