IMF blocks credit to Serbia over excessive spending
Feb 9, 2012, 13:54 GMT
Belgrade - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday suspended the release of the first tranche of a 1.1-billion-dollar credit line to Serbia, saying Belgrade had failed to keep spending within the agreed limits.
An IMF delegation left Belgrade without a deal after the government of Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic refused to budge.
The government has made provisions in the 2012 budget for banking guarantees for loans to state-owned enterprises. This has led to the country's budget deficit growing beyond 4.25 per cent of gross domestic product, which is the limit imposed by IMF.
Serbia insists that the guarantees are not actually expenditures, while the IMF argues otherwise.
The disagreement has blocked the first tranche, worth 190 million euros (252 million dollars) of the 1.1-billion-dollar facility agreed in September.
An IMF team will return for a new evaluation of Serbia's compliance with the terms of the arrangement in mid-2012, a statement issued by Cvetkovic's cabinet said, stressing that the status of the arrangement remained unchanged.
Its spending largely unchecked, Serbia has been hard-hit by the economic crisis. However, the ruling coalition supporting President Boris Tadic has been reluctant to embark on unpopular reforms ahead of elections expected to take place in early May.
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