Page last updated at 21:32 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 22:32 UK

Tajikistan ordered to repay $47m

Tajik children sitting on a pavement
Tajikistan has suffered severe food problems

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has told Tajikistan to pay back more than $47m (23.5m) in loans after false data was submitted.

An IMF source told the BBC that this was one of the worst cases of misreporting it had seen.

Tajikistan's National Bank has admitted giving the fund false information. It said it had $500m in reserves when it only had $115m, to gain more loans.

The bank defended the move, saying the loans were needed to fund agriculture.

The bank's chairman, Sharif Rahimzada, said: "In European countries, governments pay $3 a day to look after a cow. But we didn't have that capacity then, neither do we have it now.

"Our budget is very small, but we have to assist our agriculture, and this was one way of assisting agriculture."

The revelation comes just as Tajikistan has had one of its most severe winters in five decades, which has hit agricultural output hard.

The cost of food has risen sharply risen, due in part to increasing prices worldwide.

Some humanitarian agencies say Central Asia's poorest nation is heading towards catastrophe.

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