Ukraine needs expanded IMF program

Ukraine needs expanded IMF program

© Gleb Garanich / Reuters

The IMF program was agreed in April to shore up the ex-Soviet state's foreign currency reserves and support an economy blighted by years of corruption and economic mismanagement. Kiev is now struggling with the extra costs of fighting a separatist rebellion in its eastern territories.

"We want to expand the program given the difficult situation. Calculations are being made," Abromavicius said at a briefing, adding that it was too early to say how much extra cash would be needed.

The IMF, which is visiting Kiev this week for talks on the bailout program, warned in September that if the eastern conflict ran into 2015, the country might need as much as $19 billion in extra aid.

Ukraine has so far received two tranches under the IMF program, worth a total of $4.6 billion, but the country's foreign currency reserves are at a ten-year low due to gas debt repayments to Russia and efforts to support the struggling hryvnia currency.

The economy has been additionally burdened by the cost of combat operations, while the conflict has closed steel plants and coal mines and destroyed infrastructure in Luhansk and Donetsk, regions that together once accounted for a sixth of gross domestic product and a quarter of industrial output.

Clashes have continued despite the signing of a ceasefire three months ago, and the death toll has risen to more than 4,300 since mid-April.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Alessandra Prentice, editing by Ralph Boulton)