Protests in Bishkek against the IMF program took place in December (RFE/RL)
February 20, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's new government has rejected participation in an International Monetary Fund (IMF) scheme to help some of the world's poorest countries climb out of debt, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
A fierce debate has raged for months in Kyrgyzstan over whether to join the IMF program for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC).
President Kurmanbek Bakiev had urged the new government of Prime Minister Azim Isabekov to develop a debt strategy that would reduce HIPC membership to "secondary" importance.
Bakiev attended today's cabinet session to argue that ministers should put aside political bickering and seek other ways to solve Kyrgyzstan's debt problem.
"A special six-member commission considered this issue and decided that this initiative would have more negative than positive results," he said. "I think their arguments were correct. The government is a collective body, therefore it would be right to have not a personal, but a common governmental decision."
Finance Minister Akylbek Japarov immediately criticized the government decision, saying the IMF offered the best hope of writing off nearly half of the country's $2 billion foreign debt.
The government of former Prime Minister Feliks Kulov told the World Bank and IMF in March 2006 that it wanted to start talks on possible eligibility for the HIPC. But Kulov resigned in December.
The IMF has suggested Kyrgyzstan could join the initiative.
(with material from AP)