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Iraq finance minister: in discussions with IMF, no decision on aid request

‘We haven’t decided to resort to them. At the moment, we are not that bad,’ says Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari

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Iraq is discussing its financial situation with the International Monetary Fund but has made no decision to request emergency assistance, Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Tuesday.

Asked by reporters if Iraq was in touch with the IMF, he said: “Well we are actually discussing with the IMF especially - they have some emergency assistance. We haven’t decided to resort to them. At the moment, we are not that bad.”

The plunge in oil prices since last year is ravaging Iraq’s state finances. The government has projected a budget deficit of roughly $21 billion this year and it has been building up debts to the companies developing its oil fields.

Speaking on the sidelines of a financial conference in Kuwait, Zebari did not elaborate on what aid might be provided by the IMF.

He has previously said Iraq plans to raise $1.8 billion this year by using Iraq’s Special Drawing Rights at the IMF, which would be different than an emergency loan program.

“Iraq is not bankrupt - we have plenty of assets we can use,” he said on Tuesday. But he also said, “We have a serious cash flow problem,” adding that Iraq's financial squeeze was “very serious.”