Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Belarus to spend $179.2 million for nuclear project this year

Belarus is expected to spend $148.5 million of Russia's government loan this year for the construction of a nuclear power plant and provide 257 billion rubels ($30.7 million) for the project out of its own treasury, Belarusian Deputy Energy Minister Mikhail Mikhadzyuk said during a question-and-answer session hosted by the government's news agency BelTA on Wednesday.

In addition, the Belarusian finance ministry, Russia's Vneshekonombank and its Belarusian subsidiary Belzneshekanambank are about to complete talks on a draft loan agreement that would be used to make advance payments for the project, Mr. Mikhadzyuk said, adding that the payments would amount to $20.7 million in 2012.

When asked how the government would execute Alyaksandr Lukashenka's order to cut the project's costs without compromising on quality, Mr. Mikhadzyuk replied that Belarus would be charged at Russia's domestic rates for the construction of the nuclear plant.

The plant should not be more expensive than the one under construction in Russia's exclave province of Kaliningrad, he noted.

In addition, the services of Belarusian companies and domestic raw materials will be used wherever possible to cut costs, Mr. Mikhadzyuk said.

Belarus' nuclear power plant will be situated in the Astravets district, Hrodna region, some 10 miles from the Lithuanian border. Its two reactors are to have a generating capacity of up to 2,400 megawatts in total. The first unit of the plant is scheduled to be put into operation in 2017 and the other one in 2018.