Ukraine hopes to get IMF loans soon after “a lot of progress”, says finance minister

Band Natalia Zinets

KYIV, March 30 (Reuters)Ukraine has made a lot of progress in negotiations for more loans from the International Monetary Fund and hopes to reach an agreement on the “staff level” soon, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko told a press conference on Tuesday. .

Anti-corruption policy and judicial reform remained open issues in the negotiations, but tax policy was not a sticking point, he added.

UUkraine is trying to secure loans under a $ 5 billion IMF program that was signed last year but has been repeatedly delayed due to concerns over Kiev’s progress on entrenched reforms and fight against corruption.

“We are in the active phase, we are very advanced,” Marchenko said. “There is hope that in the near future we will move to the staff level agreement.”

Ukraine also hoped to discuss the possibility of a US loan guarantee for a new Eurobond issue, he added.

Separately, on Tuesday, Ukraine’s parliament passed a first-reading law that would allow citizens to voluntarily declare their assets on condition that they pay a single tax for them.

The assets would be taxed at 5%, or 9% if the assets were abroad or 2.5% if the assets were invested in Ukrainian bonds.

Supporters of the legislation, which must be passed a second time to take effect, say it will increase tax revenue and make more money from Ukraine’s large underground economy.

But critics warn it could be a way to launder money obtained through corruption.

The vote came on the same day that IMF representative in Ukraine Goesta Ljungman said the IMF was skeptical of tax amnesty policies because they were counterproductive in the long run.

“But if a tax amnesty is granted, government officials and their immediate families and relatives should not be subject to it,” Ljungman told Interfax Ukraine in an interview.

“It is also extremely important not to allow the amnesty to be used as a means of laundering the proceeds of crime and corruption.”

(Written by Matthias Williams; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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