Updated at 10:54,14-11-2017

Belarus set to borrow $1 billion from IMF in 2017

By Dzmitry Zayats, BelaPAN

Belarus plans to borrow $1 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2017, according to a draft macroeconomic forecast drawn up by the government.

Minsk is determined to spend the money on refinancing its external debt. It is scheduled to pay $3 billion to foreign creditors next year.

A delegation of IMF experts is staying in Belarus to review the country's economic performance. Belarusian authorities planned to use the team's visit to discuss the terms of a possible new loan program with the IMF.

Finance Minister Uladzimir Amaryn said earlier this month that it would be "too optimistic" to expect the first tranche of a possible IMF loan this year.

Alyaksandr Chubryk, of the Privatization and Management Institute, said that Minsk desperately needed a new portion of financial assistance from the IMF.

"Industrial companies are in a difficult financial shape and banks have seen a constant rise in the share of bad loans against this backdrop. A new IMF loan program is very desirable to keep the situation in the economy under control," he told BelaPAN.

Dzmitry Kruk, of the Minsk-based Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center (BEROC), warned that the IMF would insist on specific reforms in the economy's real sector and that could become an obstacle to the international organization's new program with the Belarusian government.

"If the IMF doesn't see specific steps to reform state-owned companies, Belarus' program with the Fund may be discussed for one, two and three years more," he predicted.