IMF Says Belarus Counting on $500M Tranche From Moscow


MINSK - Belarus has enough loans to shore up its finances this year but could run into trouble if a $500 million tranche from Russia does not materialize, the IMF's representative in Minsk, Natalya Kolyadina, said Friday.

Kolyadina also said Belarus should sell off some banks this year and prepare other companies for privatization when the global financial crisis is over.

Belarus this year received $1.5 billion from Russia, $1.5 billion from the International Monetary Fund as part of a $3.5 billion deal and should receive a further $1.36 billion from the IMF, $200 million from the World Bank and the $500 million Russian tranche.

"Our forecasts at the moment show that the 2009 financial gap is closed," Kolyadina said in an interview. "If the economic situation remains as it is, then Belarus would be able to close the gap using the resources already identified.

"There will be complications, however, if Russia does not disburse the $500 million that Belarus planned to receive."

Russia delayed the $500 million, the last tranche of a $2 billion credit, saying the country could go bankrupt as early as next year.

President Alexander Lukashenko hit back, saying Russia had made the loan contingent on Belarus recognizing the rebel Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia - a move that would undo a recent rapprochement with the European Union.

Kolyadina said creditors should have no doubts about Belarus' ability to service its debts.

"Belarus will be able to service its external debt in 2009 and 2010, by our calculations. [The debts] are not at such levels as to have a significantly negative impact on the economy," she said.



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