Belarus expects to implement new program with IMF
Belarus expects to implement a "new program of cooperation" with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich said Monday while meeting with the head of an IMF mission, David Hofman.
"We believe that given the great work that has been done, Belarus can expect a new program with the IMF," said Mr. Myasnikovich. "I think this will be reported to the executive directors and the political leadership of the Fund."
Judging by the volume of materials presented by the IMF mission for the meeting, the mission worked quite productively during its 11 days in Belarus, Mr. Myasnikovich said. "While agreeing with the mission’s conclusions in principle, I would like to note that you may have not had sufficient information regarding some things and therefore the conclusions are not completely objective," he said.
"I think you could find that the government and the National Bank made a consistent effort to stabilize the economy," he said, noting that the government’s policies met the previous IMF mission’s recommendations to a certain extent.
According to Mr. Myasnikovich, the government has stabilized the foreign exchange and consumer markets, runs a deficit-free budget, has ensured a rise in the gold and foreign exchange reserves, makes prompt payments to service its external debt and has achieved an export surplus.
"Why do we talk about the need to boost exports as a priority? Because macroeconomic stabilization follows this. As professionals, we understand this very well," Mr. Myasnikovich said. The government cannot be satisfied with the current inflation rate, but it is within the target range, he added.
"That is why we would like the IMF mission’s conclusions to reflect this and other things," he said.
The IMF mission, led by Mr. Hofman, arrived in Minsk on October 18 to hold post-program monitoring discussions with the Belarusian authorities as part of the third review of the country’s stand-by arrangement (SBA) that expired in April 2010.
The Fund's Belarus office said that the October 18-29 visit would make it possible for the IMF staff and the Belarusian authorities to discuss Minsk's economic policy and prospects for the Belarusian economy's development in 2013.
The 15-month, SDR1.62 billion (about $2.46 billion) arrangement was approved by the IMF Executive Board on January 12, 2009. On June 29, 2009, the IMF financial support under the SBA was increased to SDR2.27 billion (about $3.52 billion).
Finance Minister Andrey Kharkavets said in early October that Belarus wanted to take a new IMF loan.
He refused to specify the amount that the government would like to borrow. "It is not a specific amount but the government's responsible macroeconomic policy that is the decisive factor for us. The amount will be equal to a gap in financing the economy in the next three to five years," he said.