Experts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on November 3 arrived in Minsk to discuss with the authorities their economic policy pursued this year and plans for the next couple of years.
The IMF team is to stay in Belarus until November 16, said the press center of the Fund’s office in Minsk.
Its talks will focus on the country’s monetary, tax and foreign exchange policies, as well as on the government’s plans for structural reforms in the next three to five years.
The press office said that the expediency of the IMF’s new stand-by program for Belarus would not be on the agenda of the visit. In late March, the IMF Executive Board completed the fourth review of Belarus’ performance under an economic program supported under the country`s Stand-By Arrangement with the Fund, authorizing the immediate disbursement of about $663 million, which brought total disbursements under the program to an amount equivalent to $3.46 billion.
In August, Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski told IMF Resident Representative Natallya Kalyadzina that Minsk was ready to apply for further assistance, if need be. But he made it clear that the economy was in a good shape.
The Belarusian government so far has not applied to the Fund for a new loan, but some economic experts predict that the authorities will start the negotiations early next year.
A new IMF program is necessary, economist Syarhey Chaly told BelaPAN.
"One way or another, anti-crisis measures should be taken and no one except the IMF can help Belarus," he said. "The government should discuss and start implementing a new program in the first quarter of 2011. The economy dictates the need to work closely with the IMF." "The government’s irresponsible policy has exacerbated imbalances," he noted. "Instead of broadening [the exchange rate] corridor to gradually adopt a market rate, the government reintroduced a fixed rate. It returned to a situation that caused devaluation in early 2009."