IMF to consider 683 mln dlr aid installment for Belarus

The International Monetary Fund moved Thursday toward the release of 683 million dollars as part of a program to Belarus in a bid to help it weather a financial crisis.

The money will be part of a 3.52 billion dollar IMF standby loan approved earlier this year.

An IMF mission visited Minsk recently for talks with officials in Belarus ahead of a decision by the Washington-based Fund's on providing the second installment under the aid facility.

The IMF said the mission reached a staff-level agreement with Belarusian authorities and agreed to submit to IMF management a letter "with a view to allowing the IMF executive board to consider the completion of the second review of the arrangement" to allow the release of the funds.

"Macroeconomic and financial policies in Belarus are on track," said IMF official Chris Jarvis, who led the mission.

He said Belarus had met key performance criteria and was making "good progress" in meeting structural targets under the program, including preparation of a draft law on establishing a "privatization agency."

Belarus said in January that the IMF loan was needed to make up for lost export revenues because foreign countries were having trouble paying for its goods amid the global credit crunch.

The United States, by far the largest voting power in the 185-nation IMF, has branded Belarus "Europe's last dictatorship." But US officials have stressed that relations are improving.



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