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IMF Approves 'Stand-By' Funding for Paraguay - 2003-12-16

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved $73 million in so-called "stand-by" funding for Paraguay in an effort to boost the nation's economic reform program.

In a statement released Monday, the IMF says its decision on the 15-month funding arrangement paves the way for the immediate release of $44 million to the nation.

The statement says Paraguay has launched an ambitious reform program to stabilize its economy and has begun a process of structural reform. The IMF says the program is focused on eliminating the current fiscal deficit by 2004.

It says the key components to that effort are expanded taxes and an austerity program which will include reforms in the public employees pension program and controls on fuel and utility costs.

The IMF says if the economic plan is implemented, Paraguay should move into a period of greater economic stability and growth.