KIEV: The Ukrainian parliament on Friday passed the government's 2019 budget, a move key to unlocking more aid from the International Monetary Fund after a tense night-long debate.

The IMF has agreed to give Ukraine a new, $3.9 billion loan to support the struggling ex-Soviet nation next year when it holds crucial presidential and parliamentary elections.

Lawmakers haggled over the bill into the morning hours before adopting the budget with a deficit of around 2.3 percent of gross domestic product early Friday.

Finance minister Oksana Markarova described the budget as “balanced and realistic."

“This will provide an opportunity to confidently enter the year 2019," Markarova told lawmakers before the vote during the second and final reading of the bill.

She said it would now be sent to the IMF “as quickly as possible."

Ukraine has been locked in a conflict with pro-Russian separatists for the past four years and assistance from foreign donors is crucial.

Last month the Ukrainian government announced a gas price increase of 23.5 percent to take effect from November 1.

To receive more financial assistance Ukraine's 2019 budget should be “consistent with IMF staff recommendations and an increase in household gas and heating tariffs," the Washington-based organisation had said.

Economists praised the adoption of the budget, with Anders Aslund, a Ukraine expert and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, saying the move should also open up “badly needed funds from the World Bank and the EU".

Ukraine has not received any money from the IMF since April 2017, when the fund released $1 billion for the cash-strapped country to repay loans.

The pro-Western country had received less than $9 billion of the original $17.5 billion package.

An IMF lifeline has helped Ukraine to weather a crisis sparked by a Russian-backed war in the separatist industrial east that began in April 2014 and has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2018