World Bank, IMF Urge Russia

Wednesday, June 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MOSCOW (AP) — International Monetary Fund and World Bank representatives praised the government's economic program Wednesday, but said the plan has to be implemented before Russia gets new loans.

The 10-year economic plan, drawn up by the economics and trade minister, German Gref, is to be reviewed by the Cabinet next Wednesday.

The program embraces crucial steps toward a free market such as free land ownership — the government still owns nearly all Russian land — and an end to barter but few details have been published.

``The IMF is ready to provide financial support once an ambitious program has been elaborated,'' the fund's Moscow representative, Martin Gilman, told an investment conference.

The World Bank's Moscow representative, Michael Carter, said the program is ``an exciting set of proposals that go a long way'' toward carrying out long-delayed structural reforms.

High oil prices and some improvements in fiscal policy have spurred growth in Russia's economy, which was up 7.9 percent in the first quarter of this year after a decade dominated by decline.

But Russia can't keep relying on oil exports and on cosmetic reform to sustain economic growth, Carter said. ``The key focus needs to shift to implementation of structural reforms,'' he said.

The IMF suspended a $4.5 billion loan to Russia last September, saying Moscow failed to meet key loan conditions, such as greater central bank openness.