While the financial pressures facing Ukraine have eased since it obtained an emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund, a deeper than expected downturn and political uncertainty continue to weigh on its economy, the Fund said in a report on Monday.

"Given the pronounced recession in Ukraine's main trading partners and the likely frail global demand for steel in the coming quarters, the forecast assumes only a very gradual recovery in the second half of 2009," the IMF said in a staff report on the Ukrainian economy.

The IMF is projecting Ukraine's gross domestic product will contract by 14% this year, up from the 8% it projected several months ago. The IMF has extended a two-year $16.4 billion loan package to the country of which nearly $11 billion has been disbursed.

In conjunction with the loan package, the IMF is pushing Ukraine to reform its state-owned gas company, Naftogaz, which is driving up the country's fiscal deficit.

Naftogaz accounts for nearly one-third of the deficit the Ukraine is expected to run this year.


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