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White House Gives Ukraine $220 Million In Aid For Reform Efforts

The White House is giving Ukraine $220 million in aid to support "ambitious" reform efforts by Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman.
The White House is giving Ukraine $220 million in aid to support "ambitious" reform efforts by Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman.

The White House says it will give Ukraine $220 million in new aid this year to support Kyiv's economic, political, and energy reform efforts.

The badly needed aid for the war-shattered country was announced on June 15 after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman by phone.

The White House said the aid will help Ukraine "strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law, reinforce the foundations for sustainable economic growth, and respond to humanitarian needs."

Among the items on Hroysman's "ambitious reform agenda," the White House said, is an acceleration of customs reform, an ongoing fight against corruption through reform of the justice sector, and implementation of constitutional amendments adopted by Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada on June 2.

Hroysman intends to increase "support for independent media and civil society," it said, and extend decentralization across Ukraine to improve the government's delivery of services and increase citizen engagement.

Hroysman has also committed to energy reforms, including establishing competitive gas and electricity markets in line with European Union standards, diversifying sources of energy away from Russia, and privatization of state energy agencies.

The White House said that on June 9 the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation approved up to $62.5 million in financial support for two private equity funds that will invest in Ukraine across a number of sectors, including agribusiness, health care, infrastructure, retail, consumer goods, and real estate.

These two investments are in addition to previous corporation financial commitments to Ukraine totaling $185 million, according to the White House.

U.S. aid to Ukraine since 2014 has totaled $1.3 billion, it said, including $112 million in humanitarian assistance for civilians affected by the conflict with Russia-backed separatists in the east.

The U.S. government has also provided $2 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine, and on June 3 approved an agreement allowing Ukraine to use a third of a $1 billion guarantee in coming months.

"These loan guarantees help Ukraine stabilize its economy and protect the most vulnerable households from the impact of needed economic adjustment," the White House said.

Separately, Hroysman's senior economic adviser, Ivan Miklos, told Reuters on June 15 that Ukraine hoped the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will release $1.7 billion in delayed aid this year in two installments as Ukraine adopts reforms sought by the global lender.

Miklos, who was visiting Washington, said Ukraine hoped to get the first installment of IMF aid of $1 billion next month, an amount that he said would suffice to keep the economy stable.

However, efforts to get reform legislation through the Rada continue to lag, he said.

"There is not sufficient ownership of reform" in parliament, he said. "There is not sufficient understanding that the reforms are necessary."

With reporting by Reuters
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