Ukraine is “weeks” away from a full IMF help program, fund chief says

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said a full-fledged aid program for Ukraine was “weeks away”.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund is weeks away from completing a full-fledged support program for Ukraine, the fund’s executive director Kristalina Georgieva told CNBC on Saturday.

This comes hours after the IMF announced on Friday it had struck a staff-level agreement with Ukrainian authorities, paving the way for talks on a full lending program to support Kiev’s economy and its bid to join the European Union Union would promote. The plan now has to be approved by IMF management.

“In these exceptional wartime conditions, time is not Ukraine’s friend,” CNBC’s Georgieva Hadley Gamble said at the Munich Security Conference.

“We’re talking about a few weeks, not a very long period of time,” she added, as she pressed on the schedule for the program’s implementation.

Georgieva said the UN Finance Agency is confident that Ukraine is meeting its requirements in terms of tax policy, governance, anti-corruption and financial sector stability.

“We have a country where institutions work. In which pensions are paid. In which social services are present.

The program comes at a crucial time for Ukraine as it approaches the first anniversary of the Russian invasion on February 24. The IMF estimates that the country could need over $40 billion in financial assistance this year, even if Ukraine’s economy is expected to return to growth after a 30% contraction in 2022.

“Ukraine needs the IMF at this very critical time,” Georgieva said. “Why? Because the financial need is significant: we have put it somewhere between $40 billion and $48 billion this year.”

“And second, because the country needs the political support that the IMF provides. Running a war economy is not a trivial matter,” she added.

Accelerating Ukraine’s path to EU membership

In addition to helping Ukraine’s economy amid the conflict, Georgieva said the reforms would also help “speed up” Ukraine’s efforts to eventually join the EU.

On June 23, 2022, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for Ukraine to be granted candidate status for EU membership without delay. The European Council granted the country candidate status for EU membership on the same day.

“We are making Ukraine’s desire to join the European Union a priority of our work,” Georgieva said on Saturday.

“You belong there,” she added. “And of course the fund can help them move faster down that path.”

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