IMF Considers New Program for Armenia

YEREVAN (Reuters)–The International Monetary Fund and Armenia will discuss key components of a new program in early March–its IMF resident representative said on Friday.

George Anayiotos told Reuters in an interview the Fund would offer the country a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility–but did not comment on its size.

"We really have to agree on financial policies–fiscal-monetary and exchange rate policies–structural reforms and trade policies as well as major areas such as privatization–banking supervision and energy sector reform," Anayiotos said.

Armenia’should attempt to clear a backlog in public spending–particularly on pensions–and enhance spending control and also should be forceful on clearing tax arrears–he added.

The previous IMF program to Armenia–an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility–expired last year.

"The amount of financing under the (new) program will depend on the strength of the policies–but also on the quota of Armenia in the IMF," Anayiotos added.

He said a mission would arrive in the first half of March and the new program would be aimed at reducing poverty.

Its strategy was due to be prepared by the government with help from the World Bank–which is drawing up a poverty reduction plan to guide IMF and Bank lending policies to Armenia.

He said key goals of the Fund program would be creating jobs–developing small- and medium-size enterprises and assuring their access to credits and helping local authorities prepare and implement budgets.

He declined to comment on macroeconomic indicators–which are being discussed by parliament in debates on the 2000

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