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Ukraine's Parliament Passes 2017 Budget, Possibly Freeing Up IMF Loans

Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk said the new budget is "realistic."

Ukraine's parliament has approved a budget for 2017, raising its chances of securing more aid from the International Monetary Fund under a $17.5 billion loan package.

The document approved by 274 to 226 on December 21 keeps the budget deficit at 3 percent of gross domestic product, in line with the IMF's guidelines.

Legislators had intended to pass the budget weeks ago. Delays in approving it have held up the disbursement of another $1.3 billion loan, causing foreign exchange reserves to fall below the central bank's target.

The IMF and other international backers have propped up Ukraine's economy since the country plunged into turmoil in 2014 following Russia's annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of a separatist war in the east.

Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk called the new budget "realistic" and said it was needed to give momentum to economic reform. The budget projects economic growth of 3 percent next year, up from 1 percent in 2016.

The IMF said last month that to secure more loans, Ukraine needed to pass a suitable budget and step up efforts to fight corruption -- including by jailing crooked officials.

Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS