ECONOMY

Albania, IMF start talks on new deal

TIRANA (AP) – The International Monetary Fund has started preliminary talks with Albania on a new program to support the Balkan country’s economic development, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. Istvan Szekely, head of the IMF mission, started the first round of talks Monday and they were likely to last two weeks before Finance Minister Ridvan Bode is to go to Washington to sign the deal this month, ministry spokeswoman Eva Simoni said. Last month, an IMF mission said it was pleased with Albania’s efforts to keep inflation down and to maintain stable growth, but encouraged the country to fight corruption and improve governance. The current three-year, $42.7 million (36-million-euro) Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility program, designed to help the tiny Balkan country maintain macroeconomic stability and to accelerate structural reforms, began in June 2002 and expires this month. The IMF is expected to check Albania’s macroeconomic and other financial indicators every six months that would serve as the basis for the continuation of the program, according to the new deal.