Belarus halts negotiations with IMF over new loan

By bne IntelliNews March 1, 2016

The Belarusian government has suspended negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a new $3.5bn support package, Finance Minister Vladimir Amarin told journalists in Minsk on February 29 without elaborating.

However, the government seems close to securing a new $2bn aid package it has also been seeking from the Russia-led Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation and Development (EFSD). According to Amarin, the EFSD loan may be secured within a week or two. The Belarusian government is "in the final stage" of negotiations with the lender, he added.

Earlier, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko urged the government to avoid lowering itself to get IMF credits. "We should work with them. They suggest reasonable solutions. But we should not grovel in the dust before them," said Lukashenko.

Re-elected in October for a fifth five-year term, the president has repeatedly rejected a major change in economic policy just to satisfy creditors.

A loan from either camp will potentially save Belarus from a financial meltdown, as its own financial resources do not allow it to fully repay its external obligations over the next years.

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