KIEV, March 27 (Xinhua) -- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission in Ukraine on Thursday agreed on a loan between 14 billion and 18 billion U.S. dollars to the Ukrainian government.
"The mission has reached a staff-level agreement with the authorities of Ukraine on an economic reform program that can be supported by a two-year stand-by arrangement with the IMF," Nikolay Gueorguiev, the IMF mission chief for Ukraine said in a statement.
The IMF authorities are expected to approve the exact amount of the loan in April, the statement said.
Gueorguiev said that the loan would become part of a broader international financial support to Ukraine worth up to 27 billion dollars within the next two years.
The stand-by program is to keep Ukraine's struggling economy afloat amid the recent economic and political turbulence, it said.
The IMF started its mission in Ukraine on March 4 to make technical assessment of the country's economic situation and hold talks with the authorities over a possible bailout.
To obtain the loan, Ukraine agreed to implement reforms in energy and financial sectors, strengthen its fiscal policy and improve business climate.
IMF's previous 15-billion-dollar stand-by loan program to Kiev was frozen in February 2011 over the unwillingness of the Ukrainian authorities to raise utility tariffs for households, reduce fiscal deficit and conduct reforms.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Thursday that his government expected that the country's economy will contract 3 percent in 2014.
"We should adopt tough anti-crisis measures to avoid default," Yatsenyuk told the parliament, urging the lawmakers to approve the package of laws aimed at preventing economic collapse.
Yatsenyuk said inflation in Ukraine for 2014 is likely to reach 12percent to 14 percent against the 2.6 percent estimated earlier due to the government's loose monetary policy.
The Ukrainian economy is facing bankruptcy over high budget deficit, huge state debt and low foreign exchange reserves.
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