Latvia Faces June Bankruptcy If IMF Loan Halted, Premier Says

Latvia faces bankruptcy in three months if it fails to deliver budget cuts required by the International Monetary Fund and the next installment of its bailout is delayed, Premier-designate Valdis Dombrovskis said. Latvia, in the grip of the severest crisis since independence in 1991, was granted a €7.5 billion ($9.5 billion) bailout last quarter after the economy shrank 10.5 percent and the state seized its second biggest bank. The government fell on Feb. 20 after agreeing to budget cuts needed to keep the deficit below 5 percent of gross domestic product. Dombrovskis wants the IMF to approve a deficit of 8 percent of GDP to avoid crippling the economy. Latvia must cut the budget to meet terms of the bailout or get a bigger loan from the IMF-led group and European Commission or it will run out of money. “It’s hardly possible” to keep to the earlier target, Dombrovskis said. “The previous memorandum of understanding was signed under the assumption of a 5 percent recession, meanwhile the forecast is for 12 percent and it may get worse.” Latvia faces a deepening contraction as its currency peg to the euro forces it to push through wage cuts to remain competitive. The economic collapse threatens to spread through the whole Baltic region, and there may be need for a broader bailout that includes Lithuania and Estonia, Dombrovskis said. Read more.