March 15, 2019 / 10:46 AM / 6 months ago

Ukraine PM seeks talks with IMF to avert gas price rises

KIEV, March 15 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said on Friday he would urge the finance ministry and state-run energy firm Naftogaz to start talks with the International Monetary Fund to try to prevent any future rise in gas tariffs for households.

The IMF, Ukraine’s major lender, has repeatedly urged Kiev to raise gas tariffs to market rates and made this a condition of future financial aid for the war-hit country.

“Yesterday, Naftogaz announced that it is buying cheap imported gas. They say that we can avoid any further increases (in gas prices),” Groysman told the parliament.

“So, today I will urge Naftogaz Ukraine, together with the finance ministry, to start a working discussion with the IMF in order ... to prevent any price increases for gas,” he said, giving no more details.

The Ukrainian government raised gas prices by nearly a quarter in October, allowing it to secure a new $3.9 billion stand-by aid agreement with the IMF.

Gas prices are a sensitive issue in a country where a large part of the population lives on the verge of poverty.

Opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has made her opposition to the government’s decision to raise gas prices a central part of her campaign in the March 31 presidential election, as have some other candidates. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Mark Potter)

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