IMF warns Ukraine: fight corruption or lose funding

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (R) and Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. © Mikhail Palinchak
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) may suspend Ukraine’s $17.5 billion bailout program, if Kiev does not implement promised reforms.

“Without a substantial new effort to invigorate governance reforms and fight corruption, it’s hard to see how the IMF-supported program can continue and be successful,” IMF chief Christine Lagarde said in a statement Wednesday.

“Ukraine risks a return to the pattern of failed economic policies that’s plagued its recent history. It’s vital that Ukraine’s leadership acts now to put the country back on a promising path of reform,” she added. 

The statement follows the abrupt resignation of Ukraine’s Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius. He left his post last week, saying he did not want to provide "cover" for widespread government corruption.

Abromavicius accused the authorities of creating obstacles to his reforms; the allegations included President Petro Poroshenko's administration. The methods were "ranging from a sudden removal of my security detail, to the pressure to appoint questionable individuals to my team or to key positions in state-owned enterprises.”

The Lithuanian-born politician and investment banker took Ukrainian citizenship in 2014 to hold the ministerial post in the country where a law was introduced in December 2014. The new provision allowed foreign experts to be invited into Ukraine’s government.

Kiev’s efforts to tackle corruption brought practically no results last year, according to Transparency International. Ukraine was 130th in the list of 168 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index, on the same level with Cameroon and Nicaragua.