Wednesday, March 11, 2009

IMF team arrives in Romania to discuss possible aid

BUCHAREST, March 11 (Reuters) - An International Monetary Fund mission of experts arrived in Romania late on Tuesday to discuss a possible aid programme, a Fund official said on Wednesday. Bucharest asked the EU's executive for aid on Tuesday to save it from a possible financing crisis, making it the latest member of the 27-member bloc to cry for outside help against the global economic storm. Brussels was quick to reply saying it is ready to offer aid.

The IMF mission will have meetings with Romanian leaders including the central bank governor, finance minister and other officials between March 11-25.

Since the global crisis accelerated in October, Romania has turned from being the European Union's fastest-growing economy and an attractive destination for foreign investors into one of its most vulnerable.

There have been no details on the size of any bailout, which would include EU funding, but economists say it could amount to around 20 billion euros, near the $25 billion of IMF, EU and World Bank money agreed in a bailout of Hungary last October.

Romania's centre-left government, however, may yet struggle to meet the IMF's requirements, bound to include tough spending cuts for the country of 22 million, the EU's second poorest state after Bulgaria.

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