Statement at the Conclusion of a Staff Visit to Belarus

Press Release No. 09/72

March 10, 2009

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team visited Minsk during March 3-10 to meet with the authorities and discuss recent economic developments in the context of Belarus's IMF-supported economic program. The IMF Executive Board approved a US$2.46 billion Stand-By Arrangement for Belarus on January 12 (see Press Release No. 09/05). About US$800 million has already been disbursed; the remainder will be phased over the period through early 2010, subject to quarterly reviews.

Mr. Chris Jarvis, the new mission chief, met with senior officials, representatives of the business and diplomatic community and independent economists.

At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Jarvis made the following statement:

"We had very constructive discussions with the government and with the National Bank. During the two months since the IMF Board approved the Stand-By Arrangement the economic challenges that Belarus faces have become more difficult. In particular, the fall in demand in major trading partners, including Russia, has hit Belarus's exporters hard.

"The authorities made important decisions at the outset of the program which are helping them now. The devaluation of the ruble on January 2 and the peg to a basket of currencies have reduced Belarus's vulnerability to the external shocks it is facing. The decision to pursue a balanced budget in 2008 and 2009 and the work that the Ministry of Finance is doing to achieve this provide a sound foundation for macroeconomic stability. We believe that with the right policies Belarus can meet the challenges it faces. The IMF will work with the authorities to help the people of Belarus get through this difficult time."

Mr. Jarvis and the team will return to Minsk in late April or early May for the first review mission of the IMF-supported program.



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