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Mon, Nov 17, 2008 - Page 10 News List

IMF agrees to loan for Iceland, board to vote this week

AFP , WASHINGTON

IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said on Saturday the fund had reached an agreement on providing a loan to Iceland, battered by the financial crisis, which will go to a vote next week.

Strauss-Kahn, who was speaking at a press conference after a summit of G20 leaders, did not say how much the loan was for, but said the board would vote on it on Wednesday.

“We will complete a program with Iceland next Wednesday at the board. We now have an agreement for a stand-by arrangement,” he told journalists.

Earlier reports have said the Nordic country was seeking some US$2 billion from the IMF.

Earlier on Saturday, some 6,000 people demonstrated in the Icelandic capital to call on government officials to resign in the wake of the financial crisis that has brought the country’s economy to the brink of collapse.

Protesters, who have gathered each Saturday over the past five weeks in steadily growing numbers, want new elections and the governors of the central bank to be replaced.

Iceland’s once booming financial sector collapsed under the weight of the worldwide credit crunch, forcing the government to take control of the major banks as its currency nose-dived.

The IMF had initially planned to consider Iceland’s request for a loan on Nov. 5 following a preliminary accord between the fund and the Icelandic authorities.

But that session was canceled after Britain and the Netherlands called for a dispute over deposits by their citizens in an Icelandic bank to be settled first.

Iceland’s central bank warned earlier this month that inflation rate will likely soar above 20 percent by early next year, with unemployment reaching 10 percent by the end of next year.

“A severe recession lies ahead, with an especially large contraction in private consumption ... Unemployment will rise and is expected to peak at 10 percent by year-end 2009,” the bank said.

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