‘New IMF loan to Ukraine will go down the drain’
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is to decide Wednesday whether to give a $17.5 billion bailout package to Ukraine. The Ukrainian parliament has already passed a series of austerity reforms to cut pensions and increase taxes in order to meet the creditors’ conditions, but more changes are going to be needed to gain this financial aid.
RT:About $4.6 billion in credit was extended to Ukraine in 2014, but its economic performance has scarcely improved. Does that mean the aid had no effect?
Martin Sieff: Pretty much yes, it does. It had the effect on keeping Ukraine afloat in the short-term. But this is an unconstitutional government in Ukraine which was really established by a violent coup in Kiev last year which has waged an aggressive war of repression against two secessionist provinces of its own country, which doesn’t have any real social contract with its own people. Its efforts to conscript large numbers of forces for the regular army have been met with peaceful but very clear resistance. This is a very weak disorganized government, it’s a black hole. The more money you pour in, the less effect you will have. You can keep it stable for a year or two but no longer than that.
RT:The IMF has agreed on a new $17.5 billion lifeline to Ukraine. Do you think that will be enough to stabilize the country's economy even if fully implemented?
MS: The aid went at least in theory to what it was supposed to, but no doubt there was a great deal of corruption. It’s ironic that the government of President Yanukovich was accused of corruption and incompetence. This government is far more corrupt than the previous government was and it’s infinitely more incompetent. So simply money leaches away, but the real problem is the lack of credibility of governance. This government is even purging its civil service of anyone remotely accused or suspected of being efficient and loyal to President Yanukovich and his predecessors. You cannot have an efficient and credible government under these circumstances.
RT:The IMF is requesting a package of economic and political reforms to be carried out when providing financial assistance to any country. Are we seeing it carried out in Ukraine at least judging by its economic performance?
MS: No, no way. First of all, there is still unrest and violence in the two eastern provinces and spreading into other parts of the country. The security conflict and the conflict with Russia have to be settled first by this government. And they are not yet ready to settle it on terms that would be acceptable and reassuring to Moscow, but that has to be resolved first. Secondly, we saw even last year President Yanukovich broke off his negotiations with the EU, but he recognized that the terms under which the EU was ready to grant association to Ukraine would be disastrous and ruinous for the Ukrainian economy and the Ukrainian people. A year ago, the EU didn’t have the resources by itself to lift up even a peaceful Ukraine under democratically elected governance. The prospects of doing that now under President Poroshenko and his war-government, his war junta are very much less. So this would be $17 billion down the drain. You know they are all saying from Washington DC, I’m paraphrasing a little “$17 billion here, $17 billion there and soon you are talking about real money”.
RT:When signing the IMF program Ukraine makes certain financial obligations, do you think they could be committed at all in the current state of its economy or is it going to be a black hole of international aid?
MS: There is no question about that. This is very unwise economic policy that has a political motivation. The EU itself and the US government both plunged in recklessly to topple the Yanukovich government last year and to support President Poroshenko. And now we have the dominant mythology, the dominant narrative in Washington, and in Brussels, and in London is that this is “a stable democratic government which is being under threat from evil totalitarian forces to the East.” That is not the truth even remotely, but that is almost universally believed by policymakers in London and Washington and many of them in Brussels and therefore there is a political motivation to try and prop up Ukraine. But you can’t fix what’s already broken. You are pouring good money after bad. Ukraine’s problems first of all have to be solved in the security sphere then they have to be solved in the political sphere restoring the political amity and credibility and the incompetent but nevertheless stable civil service that existed until February 2014 a year ago. It was the EU and the US that broke Ukraine and they cannot fix it now by simply pouring money into a black hole.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.