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Turkey says it is not planning to make deal with IMF

Turkish officials have reportedly been talking to US and other G-20 central banks about arrangements that would allow monetary authorities to exchange currencies
Turkey's foreign currency reserves have fallen in recent weeks (AFP/File photo)

Turkey is not planning to make an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, a presidential spokesman said on Sunday, as the country eyes funding options to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

On Friday, Reuters cited officials as saying Turkey had held talks with the United States about securing a swap line from the Federal Reserve, as well as other funding options. Bloomberg reported that Turkish authorities have also been talking to other G-20 central banks to be included in arrangements that allow monetary authorities to exchange currencies.

“We do not have IMF on our agenda...Turkey does not have an agenda of making a new deal with the IMF, no credit or a new standby agreement,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told private broadcaster CNN Turk in an interview.

Asked about criticism of the IMF by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, its Managing Director Kristalian Georgieva said on Thursday: “We actually have very constructive engagement with the whole membership, including with Turkey... We are there for all our members.”

The last time the IMF bailed out Turkey, in 2001, a whole generation of Turkey’s political leaders lost power and paved the way for Erdogan’s ascent. Seeking an IMF bailout would be a reversal for Erdogan, who has repeatedly said that Turkey has “closed that chapter”, Bloomberg reported.

Still, Turkey’s reserves, which were already considered inadequate before the crisis, have fallen further in recent weeks. Gross foreign currency reserves, including gold, stood at $89.6bn at the start of April. That compares with $172bn of debt payments that come due in the next 12 months, according to the Financial Times.

Turkey’s death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 1,198, with 56,956 confirmed cases as of Sunday.