The International Monetary Fund has approved more than $900 million in new loans to the Philippines, the finance secretary said Thursday.

Secretary Jesus Estanislao said an initial $400 million will be turned over in a few days. The entire $916 million is expected within 18 months, he said.Estanislao said he informed President Corazon Aquino of the loan approval after he received a telex from the IMF.

Estanislao said he was optimistic that the new loans could pave the way for approval of up to $2.7 billion in development assistance to the Philippines and rescheduling of some of the country's foreign debt.