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Russia: IMF Loan Installment Could Be Decided Tomorrow

Moscow, 24 June 1998 (RFE/RL) - Stanley Fischer, the first deputy director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), says the next installment of a nearly $10 billion loan to Russia could be agreed to as early as tomorrow. Earlier today, Fischer said he would recommend the IMF release a $670 million tranche after talks in Moscow with Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko and Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais.

Fischer said the tranche could be agreed to by tomorrow, but stressed that the final decision rests with the board of the IMF.

Fischer said today's talks also dealt with a new loan to Russia to support it through its immediate financial crisis. But he said talks on new loan will be difficult and depend on the government implementing fiscal and other reforms.

Fischer said that Russia's poor record of tax collection is the biggest obstacle to a new loan. Fischer singled out Russian oil companies as the country's greatest tax evaders.

Also today Kiriyenko started consultations with parliamentary factions, in a bid to ensure support and swift approval of the government's anti-crisis program. The program was outlined at an expanded cabinet meeting yesterday.

The government also formally approved its austerity plan, including cuts in spending of eight percent and revenue increases of about four percent. The plan aims to fill holes in the 1998 budget, restore calm to Russian financial markets, and convince the IMF that Russia is ready to implement the stringent fiscal discipline measures considered a precondition for negotiations on the Fund's additional financial support.