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Bulgarian PM Admits Sofia Needs IMF Credits To Repay Foreign Debts

Vienna, April 30 (RFE/RL) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said today that Sofia needs a new debt agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to meet foreign debt payments in three months time.

Videnov made the comment following a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky in Vienna. He said Bulgaria "will be able to meet its repayments this year." But he said that Sofia needs an agreement on stand-by credits from the IMF.

The IMF has refused to come to an agreement with Bulgaria so far this year. Both the IMF and the World Bank have complained about Sofia's failure to resolve problems with loss-making state enterprises and insolvent state and private banks.

Sofia became economically isolated in March of 1990 when the government declared a moratorium on repaying foreign debts. It only reached agreement with the London Club of private lenders on a new repayment plan in 1994.

Sofia's total external debt is nearly 11,000 million dollars. AFP quotes Bulgarian sources as saying that Sofia must repay more than 1,000 million dollars this year, but its hard currency reserves are only about 700 million dollars.