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Turkey, IMF Discuss $16B Austerity Plan

December 2, 2002

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Turkey’s new government held its first official talks with the International Monetary Fund Monday about the cash-strapped nation’s intent to implement a $16 billion austerity program.

The IMF-delegation, headed by Michael Deppler, head of the IMF’s European Department, met with deputy prime minister Mehmet Ali Sahin, finance minister Kemal Unakitan and central bank officials.

Investors have been encouraged by signs that Turkey’s new government, the country’s first single-party government to be formed in 15 years, would stick with Turkey’s IMF-backed recovery program, designed to help Turkey recover from its worst recession since World War II.

The new government has said, however, it would seek to modify parts of the program to make it more responsive to the needs of the poor.

``There’s nothing disturbing or that can’t be reconciled″ with the IMF, Unakitan said after a more than hour-long meeting Monday.

Turkey’s economic crisis has seen some 2 million job losses and the economy shrank 9.4 percent last year.

Turkey has a total of $31 billion in IMF loans and is one of the IMF’s largest borrowers.

The IMF is expected to decide on the release of a batch of loans worth $1.6 billion in the coming weeks.

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