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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

IMF Optimistic About Nation's Quick Growth

WASHINGTON -- The International Monetary Fund is "pleasantly surprised" at Russia's faster growth and rising reserve levels and expects talks on the economy to resume in September, media chief Tom Dawson said Wednesday.

The discussions, dealing with broad economic issues, would also look at how the IMF could best support the nation, the fund's largest single borrower, Dawson told a news briefing.

Russian officials say that rising reserves and a recovering economy mean the country, whose debts to the IMF peaked at almost $19 billion in July 1998, may no longer seek new credits from the global lender.

But Moscow, which is steadily repaying the old IMF loans, needs an IMF seal of approval for its economic policies to persuade the Paris Club of creditor states to reschedule debts inherited from the Soviet Union.

"We have been pleasantly surprised with the strength of the Russian economic performance in terms of growth and reserve accumulation," Dawson said.

"We will be having discussions with Russia in September on the Article Four [economic review] and we expect further discussions on how we can support their program."

The Russian government expects growth of some 5 percent this year, up from 3.2 percent last year.

The revival follows the steep devaluation of the ruble in August 1998, which helped domestic manufacturers squeeze out imported goods. Central Bank reserves were $22.3 billion on July 14, almost twice the $11.5 billion reported 12 months earlier.

But the nation has a poor track record in meeting the terms of economic reform programs agreed to with the IMF, and Moscow has also had to defend itself from a string of allegations that IMF money had been misused.

Dawson said the Fund had not been contacted about the latest investigations into these allegations f a Swiss probe into whether a $4.8 billion payment to Russia might have been channeled into secret Swiss bank accounts.

But he doubted these allegations would prove any easier to substantiate than previous charges.