Belarus cuts rates for 2nd time in 3 months

MINSK, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Belarus on Monday unveiled its second rate cut in three months, seeking to stimulate the domestic economy by encouraging cheaper loans and aiming to meet the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund.

The refinancing rate will be cut by 50 basis points to 13 percent as of Feb. 17, the central bank said in a statement, following on from a same-size move on Dec. 1.

Pyotr Prokopovich, chairman of the Belarus central bank said last month that the refi rate will be reduced to no more than 12 percent by July 1.

The Belarussian economy has been beaten badly as demand for its goods in Russia and Europe, its chief export markets, deteriorated significantly, prompting the country to turn to the IMF for cash.

The IMF -- which has opened a $3.63 billion credit line to the cash-strapped former Soviet country -- has called for tight monetary policy and limits on lending to the real economy.

Belarus has said it does not exclude asking the IMF for more cash, once the final tranche of that credit line -- due by the end of the current quarter -- is received.

(Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; writing by Toni Vorobyova and Vladimir Soldatkin, editing by Mike Peacock)


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