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WASHINGTON – The International Monetary Fund said Friday it approved a $364 million emergency loan to Ecuador after the country was hard-hit by an earthquake in April.
The money will help the country steady its finances while it addresses the huge losses from the quake, which killed some 700 people.
"The April 16 earthquake that hit Ecuador caused significant humanitarian losses and damage to infrastructure, housing, and agriculture," said IMF Deputy Managing Director Min Zhu in a statement.
"It created new fiscal pressures and an urgent balance of payments needed at a time when Ecuador&39;s economy is still suffering from the effects of lower oil prices, a strong US dollar, low international reserves, and limited access to international financing."
Days after the quake the government said it needed $3.3 billion to rebuild, even as it faced a deep budget gap due to the plunge in the price of crude oil, the country&39;s main export earner.
The IMF is granting the loan under its Rapid Financing Instrument facility, which allows it to provide assistance quickly to countries hit suddenly by financial setbacks.
The loan, which is disbursed immediately, does not come with conditions. But in his statement Min urged the country to take steps to strengthen its finances for the future.
"Over the medium term, fiscal policy will need to rebuild adequate buffers to create space for counter-cyclical policy," he said.