Lukashenko tells IMF Belarus will not dismantle social state

By bne IntelliNews November 18, 2015

The Belarusian authorities will not dismantle existing state social support measures to appease foreign lenders as the republic seeks badly needed additional credits, President Alexander Lukashenko told a senior representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on November 17.

In talks with the recently arrived head of the IMF mission to Belarus, Peter Dohlman,  Lukashenko stressed that "we are not going to break down the social state scheme we have put together", whether the IMF likes it or not.

"The matter is that we cannot leave a single child, a single elderly person, a single person with disabilities without assistance of our society, the state," the president said in remarks reported by BelTA news agency. "It is what the social state is all about. We cannot just push them aside."

Belarus, which still retains parts of its Soviet era social safety net, has been told it will have to revamp its systems and economy to qualify for more IMF credits. Badly hit by the knock-on effects of the recession in Russia, its main trading partner, the republic is seeking a further $3.5bn credit from the multinational lender.

Lukashenko noted that all other IMF proposals can be fully implemented in Belarus. "We are ready to continue working in this direction," he said, adding that he would like no delays if agreement is reached.

In turn, Dohlman said the IMF and the Belarusian side have common goals with regard to building an effective and growing economy in the republic. The IMF also pays close attention to social security and to aiding those in need, he added.

The IMF mission visit from November 9-19 comes amid growing reluctance of the Belarusian authorities to commit to structural economic reforms. On October 20, days after he won a further five years in power, Lukashenko rejected any unpopular restructuring of the economy.

Kirill Rudy, a senior economic aide to the president, said before the IMF mission arrived that economic reforms in Belarus have few prospects in the near future due to a lack of public support apart from among "a small number of specialists".

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