UPDATE 1-IMF board approves $449 mln bailout for Congo Republic

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) executive board approved a three-year extended credit facility program worth $448.6 million for Congo Republic on Thursday, the Fund said in a statement.

Congo’s economy suffered from a sharp drop in oil prices in 2014, causing debt levels to balloon to 118% of GDP in 2017. But negotiations for the bailout had dragged on for two years, as the Fund required the government to ensure the long-term sustainability of its debt.

Much of that is owed to China, and Congo reached an agreement in April to restructure a portion of its Chinese debt.

“The recent agreement to restructure the Republic of Congo’s bilateral debt should be accompanied by continued good-faith efforts to restructure commercial debt,” said IMF Deputy Managing Director Mitsuhiro Furusawa.

The program aims to support the authorities’ efforts to restore fiscal sustainability and rebuild regional reserves while improving governance, the IMF said.

The IMF will disburse nearly $45 million immediately under the conditions of the program.

Reporting by Joe Bavier; Editing by Gareth Jones and Jonathan Oatis

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