Officials from Azerbaijan met for discussions with the IMF as the ex-Soviet Union’s third-largest oil exporter was impacted by a drastic fall in crude prices, with Samir Sharifov, the country’s Finance Minister saying the government is not yet asking foreign lenders for financial assistance.
“We do have the right to borrow from the IMF and others,” Sharifov told reporters on Thursday in the capital, Baku. “But we aren’t in an urgent need to borrow now. We aren’t burning. We can borrow in three months, five months, at year-end or next year.”
Discussions with the IMF and the World Bank focused on programs to liberalize the economy and improve the business climate, Sharifov said. While these plans may require financing, no decision has yet been made. The Financial Times reported earlier that the IMF and the World Bank are discussing a possible $4 billion emergency loan package for Azerbaijan.
The Azeri central bank moved to a free float on Dec. 21 after burning through more than 60 percent of its reserves last year to defend the national currency as crude prices tumbled. The manat, which hadn’t depreciated against the dollar in a decade, nosedived by about half last year and slumped further to record lows this month, stirring public unrest over rising prices for food and other essential goods.