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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

IMF to Return for Further Evaluation

International Monetary Fund experts have made progress in assessing Russia's economic performance but a visit to Moscow last week failed to complete the work, a fund representative said Wednesday.

"We made a lot of progress," Tom Richardson said. The delegation did not have enough time ahead of the May 1 holiday, although it managed to meet new Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko, he said.

The mission's work, which could determine whether or not Russia receives another $700 million IMF loan tranche, was complicated by the state of flux in Russia's government following President Boris Yeltsin's dismissal March 23 of Viktor Chernomyrdin's cabinet.

Kiriyenko, who has advocated tough financial discipline since his appointment, only started naming his new lineup last week. Leading reformer Boris Nemtsov was named one of three deputy prime ministers, while other key economic posts went to young technocrats.

Richardson said the IMF experts, who left Moscow on Friday, could return after the May 9 Victory Day holiday weekend.

"They will come back and try to finish their work some time in May, possibly shortly after the holidays," he said.

The mission's report will be studied by the IMF before the Fund's executive board takes a decision whether to disburse the next tranche of an Extended Fund Facility granted to Russia in 1996.

The IMF has delayed some previous tranches of the $9.2 billion credit, largely because of the government's poor tax collection record.

Richardson said one of the issues to be examined by the experts would be federal budget revenues, including tax collection. He added that both past performance criteria and policies for the future would be taken into consideration.

The IMF's senior Moscow representative, Martin Gilman, said last month that the fund was looking for signs of a recovery in Russia's external reserves and an improving trend in tax collection.

He also said spending cuts authorized previously should be implemented and there should be no significant build-up in budgetary arrears -- the amount the government owes to those from whom it acquires goods and services.

Russia's State Statistics Committee has introduced a new system this year for measuring budgetary arrears, Richardson said.

The Russkii Telegraf newspaper quoted a first deputy Central Bank chairman, Sergei Alexashenko, as saying that some data would not be available before May 15 because of the new data gathering mechanism.

Deputy Finance Minister Oleg Vyugin told Russkii Telegraf that Russia had implemented half of the 20 measures which it agreed to implement before the first IMF board meeting this year. It was not clear when this meeting would take place.

Vyugin described the remaining measures as "extremely exotic" and not presenting any particular problems.

Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov said last Thursday that the talks with the IMF were going well and Russia should receive the next EFF tranche soon.