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Bulgaria: IMF Gives Reform Program Good Grades

Washington, 10 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - The International Monetary Fund's second-ranking official says Bulgaria has made a good start on its reform program.

IMF First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer told a press conference the stabilization program has been quite remarkable and that Sofia's willingness to tackle hard issues in the enterprise and banking sectors has been impressive.

Bulgaria is working under a program designed with the IMF to support a loan of about $657 million set up earlier this year. The program calls for new laws on privatization and other measures to attract investment and reduce poverty.

Fischer says Bulgaria's currency board, at the heart of the IMF program, has drastically changed the situation for the economy even though inflation remained high this summer.

He said the inflation figure reflected the adjustment of utility prices, and that the underlying rate is very low. Fischer said Bulgaria may actually see economic growth again soon because of the measures taken so far.