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WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund has approved the release of $1 billion in funding for Ecuador following two reviews of its loan program with the country.

In September 2020, Ecuador obtained a 27-month loan from the IMF for $6.5 billion, of which $4.8 billion has been delivered so far.

The new $1 billion disbursement was announced Friday.

The arrangement is meant to bolster Ecuador’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, restore fiscal sustainability and reduce public debt.

Ecuador declares state of emergency in three provinces

“The Ecuadorian authorities plan to use the disbursement for budget support,” a statement from the IMF said.

While the war in Ukraine has had detrimental effects on some sectors, higher oil prices are improving Ecuador’s balance sheet, the IMF said.

In its statement, the IMF also highlighted Ecuador’s expansion of social assistance programs.

“Social assistance to low-income families continues to be expanded. Eight in 10 low-income families now receive government support, up from three in 10 only two years ago,” said Antoinette Sayeh, IMF deputy managing director.

Another review of the loan program is scheduled for later this year to determine approval of the remaining $700 million in loan money.

Ecuador has been rocked by nearly two weeks of Indigenous-led protests by demonstrators angry at rising fuel prices. President Guillermo Lasso has accused participants of attempting a coup.

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