BBC News - IMF approves $17bn Ukraine bailout package

30 April 2014 Last updated at 19:19 ET

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a $17.1bn (£10.1bn) bailout for Ukraine, to help the country's beleaguered economy.

The money will be released over two years, with the first instalment of $3.2bn available immediately.

The loan, pledged in March, is dependent on strict economic reforms, including raising taxes and energy prices, and freezing the minimum wage.

The IMF loan will also unlock further funds worth $15bn from other donors.

The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said the loan was given the go-ahead because "decisive measures were taken by Ukraine".

Ms Lagarde said the IMF would check regularly to ensure the Ukrainian government followed through on its commitments.

"There will be review of the performance every two months in the first sequence in order to make sure that that determination is actually followed through."

The bailout had to be approved by the IMF's 24-member board, which includes a Russian representative.

Further funds

The money from the IMF unlocks other funds pledged to Ukraine from the EU, the World Bank, Canada and Japan, among others.

It will also make available $1bn in loan guarantees from the US, which was recently approved by Congress.

"Today's final approval for the $17bn IMF programme marks a crucial milestone for Ukraine," said US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in a statement.

He added that the bailout will "enable Ukraine to build on the progress already achieved to overcome deep-seated economic challenges and help the country return to a path of economic stability and growth".

A cut in energy subsidies to consumers has been one of the conditions of an international rescue deal, and last month Ukraine's interim government agreed to raise domestic gas prices by 50%.

Earlier on Wednesday, an international conference in London ended with a commitment to help Ukraine recover tens of billions of dollars worth of assets which were allegedly stolen by the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and his allies.