Friday, January 15, 2010

AP: IMF to visit Romania to consider unblocking loan

BUCHAREST, Romania -- The International Monetary Fund will send a mission to Romania on Jan. 20-27 to assess the country's economic conditions with a view to unblocking a multibillion loan, an IMF official said Friday.

Tonny Lybek, IMF representative for Romania and Bulgaria, said in a press release that "subject to the completion of the reviews by the IMF's Executive's Board," two loan disbursements worth euro2.3 billion ($3.33 billion) "would become available."

The announcement comes a day after Romania's Parliament passed this year's budget. The measure was mandatory to unfreeze the loan, which was suspended last year due to political instability.

Romania's economy has been hard hit by the economic downturn, shrinking by 8 percent in 2009 after years of robust economic growth.

The country was forced to seek help, and the IMF, the European Union and the World Bank put together a euro20 billion package in March.

The loan was suspended in October after the government was dismissed by Parliament in a no-confidence votet, leading to months of instability. However, President Traian Basescu was re-elected in December and he re-appointed Emil Boc as prime minister.

The new government drafted the 2010 budget, then approved by Parliament.

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