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IMF, World Bank Considering Aid Package For Azerbaijan

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank are discussing a possible aid package for Azerbaijan to help it cope with hardships brought on by a steep drop in oil prices.

An IMF team is due in Baku from January 28 to February 4 for a fact-finding visit at the request of Azerbaijani authorities, according to an IMF spokesman.

The Financial Times reported on January 27 that IMF and World Bank officials were discussing a possible $4 billion emergency loan package to Azerbaijan.

But IMF and World Bank spokesmen have declined to confirm the amount.

Azerbaijan has witnessed widespread protests sparked by a deep drop in the value of the national currency.

The manat has lost about one-third of its value against the dollar since December, when the central bank relinquished control of its exchange rate in a move that prompted many Azerbaijanis to withdraw their savings.

On January 19, the parliament in Azerbaijan passed a package of measures aimed at coping with the crisis, including a 20 percent charge on foreign exchange taken out of the country for investment abroad.

Based on reporting from Reuters and the Financial Times