IMF, Belarus agree on $2.5 billion rescue package
The IMF said it had agreed on a $2.5 billion emergency loan package with Belarus.
The International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday it had agreed on a $2.5 billion emergency loan package with Belarus weather the global financial crisis already gripping neighbors Ukraine and Russia.
IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said the IMF board would consider the agreement in January and Belarus will be able to draw down about $800 million of the loan immediately after approval.
"The Fund-supported program will help Belarus achieve an orderly adjustment to the external shocks that it is facing and offer protection against its most pressing vulnerabilities," Strauss-Kahn said in a statement.
"Measures agreed include a strengthened monetary and exchange rate policy framework, fiscal restraint through cuts in public investment and directed lending by banks, and strict public-sector wage restraint," he said, adding, "The social safety net will be strengthened to protect the most vulnerable."
The IMF normally makes demands of countries it loans to. While not referring directly to such demands, Belarus has said it was willing to devalue its managed currency, cut budget spending and recapitalize its banks.
It's rouble currency, pegged to the dollar, has been under pressure in recent months as exports fall and cash demand for the dollar increased.
The central bank has spent reserves to keep the rouble at a floor level of 2,200 to the dollar, from a September peak of 2,111 to the dollar. The rouble has been pegged to the dollar since the start of the year.
Belarus' economy is still largely in state hands, but its long-serving President Alexander Lukashenko has talked of greater liberalization and selected privatization.
The country received its initial ratings from international agencies in August 2007 and had hoped to issue its first Eurobond but was not able to do so as emerging market debt issuance ground to a halt.
Reuters Last Mod: 31 Aralık 2008, 16:11