IMF to continue monitoring Bulgaria through March 2007

Sofia (AP) – Bulgaria will extend its standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund by six months through March 2007, the Finance Minister said yesterday. With the extension, the IMF will continue to effectively monitor and guide Bulgarian policies through the year’s end, while the remaining three months in 2007 – when Bulgaria hopes to be a fully-fledged European Union member – will be used only for technical matters, Plamen Oresharski said. The agreement, a precautionary program meant to ensure the country’s economic stability by coordinating the government’s policies with the IMF, was to expire in September. If Bulgaria joins the European Union on January 1 as scheduled, it will be the European Commission’s job to monitor the country’s economic performance. But Oresharski said the extension of the IMF agreement would not be a problem. The IMF representative in Bulgaria, James Roaf, said the government agreed that it should continue its tight fiscal policy and maintain its 2006 target of achieving a 3 percent budget surplus. The current account deficit – the main area of concern – is expected this year to remain high at 12.4 percent of the GDP, Roaf said.