The International Monetary Fund, or IMF, approved Monday a loan of US$17.1 billion for Romania, in order to help to help the country come out of the global economic crisis. The lending agency said about US$6.6 billion would be available immediately and the rest would be available in installments subject to quarterly reviews.

Romania was one of fastest growing economies in central and eastern Europe until last year. The country which had an average growth rate of 9% during the first three quarters of 2008, showed a decline of 13% in the fourth quarter, the sharpest reversal of trend among the emerging markets.

Jeffrey Franks, the IMF's mission chief for Romania, said the IMF program would cover three basic areas including fiscal consolidation, banking reforms and lowering inflation rates. The government of Romania will also boost the social safety net spending in order to protect the most vulnerable sections of the population.

Meanwhile, the IMF expects the Romanian economy to grow 4% this year, but forecasts near zero growth in 2010. However, the IMF anticipates the growth to be 5% in 2011.

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