06 September 2005 13:58

Russia to lend $146m to Belarus

Russia will be able to lend $146 million to Belarus this year, a source in the Russian government told RBC on the eve of Russian premier Mikhail Fradkov's visit to Minsk.

Belarus wanted the money to compensate its losses caused by an increase in Russian gas prices, the source said, adding that the terms of the loan had been agreed. If the agreement is signed soon, Belarus "could get the money before the end of this year."

Belarus also wants to borrow another RUR 9 billion from Russia to support the Belarus ruble. "From Russia's view, that loan would be inexpedient given the two countries' currency integration plans," the source stressed.

Russia and Belarus continue negotiations on the introduction of a common currency. Corrections to the joint plan of action would be discussed at bilateral meetings in the Belarus capital, the source said, noting "objective difficulties there". Initially, the single currency was scheduled for introduction on January 1, 2006.

Russia and Belarus have not yet reached an agreement to retain the price of Russian gas supplies to Belarus at $46.68 per 1,000 sq. meters next year, the source said. Russian-Belarus fuel and energy supplies through 2020 are under discussion, but there are disagreements over the issue, the official added. Russia is ready to supply not more than 18 million tons of oil a year, while Belarus would like to raise the supplies to 22 million tons by 2010, to 23.7 million tons by 2015 and to 25 million tons by 2020.