KYIV, UKRAINE - Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman expects to get new loans from the International Monetary Fund as early as December, once parliament passes a budget of stability that refrains from making pre-election populist moves, he said Thursday.
Securing IMF assistance will also unlock loans from the World Bank and the European Union. Groysman also said Ukraine was in negotiations with Washington for a new loan guarantee for sovereign debt.
Groysman negotiated a new deal with the IMF last month aimed at keeping finances on an even keel during a choppy election period next year. The new loans are contingent on his steering an IMF-compliant budget through parliament.
"This budget is a budget of stability and continuation of reforms," Groysman said in an interview with Reuters. "This is fully consistent with our IMF program."
"Yes. We are counting on a tranche in December," he added, when asked about when IMF loans were expected, though he did not elaborate on the possible size of the loan.
Ukraine's government approved a draft budget in September but it will typically undergo a slew of amendments before parliament finally approves it.
Tax proposal dropped
Groysman said a proposal to change how companies are taxed — on withdrawn capital, rather than profits — had been dropped from the budget because of the IMF's concerns.
He also said he would not bow to opposition parties' demands to reverse a recent increase in household gas tariffs, a step that his government reluctantly took to qualify for more IMF assistance.
"Populism led to the weakness of Ukraine," he said. "This should not be allowed."
The IMF and Kyiv's foreign allies came to Ukraine's rescue after it plunged into turmoil following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and support for separatist rebels occupying the eastern industrial Donbass region.
The United States has also sold coal to plug a domestic shortage caused by rebels taking control of mines in the east. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited Ukraine this week.
In response to a question about whether Ukraine would continue to buy coal from the United States and potentially also liquefied natural gas, Groysman said that "liquefied gas is very interesting for Ukraine. We talked about the whole spectrum of our cooperation in the energy sector."
As for coal, he added, "we will buy it from our international partners until we cover the domestic deficit."
Washington has also previously issued loan guarantees for Ukrainian debt. Groysman said another such guarantee was "under discussion."