First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov announced yesterday, first, that a mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will arrive in Moscow at the beginning of next week and, second, that sometime around April 20, the IMF, Russia’s Central Bank and government will sign a statement laying out the basic elements of an agreement to grant Russia a credit. Maslyukov said while the amount of the new IMF credit has not yet been determined, US$4.8 billion should be considered the “basis for negotiations”–meaning, presumably, the minimum. Maslyukov said the first tranche from that credit should be dispersed in May (Russian agencies, March 31).
Reportedly, the IMF and Russia recently reached an agreement-in-principle for new aid, which would essentially refinance Russia’s debts to the Fund. Russia is said to have agreed to a 2-percent primary budget surplus, which represents a compromise figure. Deputy Finance Minister Oleg Vyugin said yesterday that the chances that Russia will receive a new credit were almost guaranteed (Russian agencies, March 31).
In Washington, meanwhile, U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey and Joint Economic Committee Vice Chairman Jim Saxton urged the United States to use its influence with the IMF to deny any further money to Russia until the Fund gives an account of what happened to the US$4.8 billion it loaned Moscow last summer. In a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, the two congressmen wrote: “A substantial amount of the American taxpayer money given to the IMF may be now be financing the lavish lifestyles of Russian oligarchs.” For his part, Rubin said on March 30 that the IMF was worried about reports that Russia’s Central Bank had placed parts of previous IMF credits with FIMACO, an asset management company in the Channel Islands (Moscow Times, April 1).
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