December 22, 2017 / 2:17 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Ukraine says no gas price change till next season, despite IMF demands

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KIEV, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Ukraine will only approve a new formula to set gas prices next year and does not see any reason to raise tariffs this heating season, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said on Friday.

Raising gas prices is a key condition for Ukraine to receive more aid from the International Monetary Fund, which supports Kiev with a $17.5 billion staggered bailout programme that is conditional on reforms and tackling corruption.

“In this heating season, we do not see any reasons for prices to be raised,” Groysman told an end-of-year news conference. “Later, we will come up with a new formula for prices, which could be confirmed in the new heating season.”

The government says it is committed to the IMF programme but Groysman’s remarks could signal further delays in securing IMF cash. Ukraine had committed to raising prices from Oct. 1, the start of the current heating season, but delayed the plan.

Since pro-Western forces took power after the 2014 Maidan street protests, Ukraine has received $8.4 billion from the IMF and more then $5 billion from the World Bank among other backers, helping lift the country out of a steep recession.

But Ukraine’s foreign backers have voiced concern about perceived backsliding on reforms, including on promises to bring gas prices in line with market rates, the creation of a special anti-corruption court and the independence of law enforcement. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; writing by Matthias Williams)

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