Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 10

First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov met yesterday in Washington with Michel Camdessus, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and James Wofensohn, president of the World Bank. Maslyukov’s comments after the meeting made it clear that the IMF has not softened its stance toward Moscow concerning the US$4.3 billion credit it withheld last fall. Maslyukov, Moscow’s official liaison with international donors, told reporters that the main “claims” the IMF had against his country’s economic program concerned specific budget parameters, and that these concerns could not but hamper the granting of the coveted credit. Maslyukov also said that IMF experts believed the Russian government is being too optimistic in its assessment of this year’s budget deficit: The draft 1999 budget assumes a deficit of only 2 percent. Maslyukov said that he and his colleagues did not agree with the IMF experts, but added that he hoped that a way to “jointly work on the issue” could be found the Monitorwhen the IMF’s delegation arrives in Moscow on January 21 (Russian agencies, January 14). Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov’s government hopes to receive US$5.2 billion in loans from abroad this year to help make ends meet.

For his part, Martin Gilman, the IMF’s representative in Moscow, said it was “still early” to say whether there will be “a new, wider [IMF] credit” to Russia. Like his colleagues in Washington, Gilman linked further IMF assistance to Moscow’s taking definitive action to resolve its crisis, saying that the fund could support the restructuring of Russia’s massive external debt “only in the context of an adequate medium-term economic program.” Gilman said the fund hoped to reach an agreement with Moscow on an economic program for 1999. This means, he added, that the Russian government must make decisions “and transform them into concrete measures the IMF could support” quickly (Russian agencies, January 14).