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Belarus’ economic challenges becoming more difficult, expert of International Monetary Fund says


Economic challenges that Belarus is facing has become more difficult in the last two months, Chris Jarvis, the new chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s mission to Belarus, said in a statement that was issued as a result of his visit to Minsk, BelaPAN said.

In particular, the fall in demand in major trading partners, including Russia, has hit Belarus’s exporters hard, he said.

At the same time, Mr. Jarvis expressed confidence that “with the right policies Belarus can meet the challenges.” “The IMF will work with the authorities to help the people of Belarus get through this difficult time,” he said.

The Fund’s team visited Minsk earlier this month to look at the government’s IMF-supported economic program.

The IMF Executive Board approved a $2.46-billion Stand-By Arrangement for Belarus on January 12. About 800 million was disbursed in January. The remainder will be phased over the period through early 2010, subject to quarterly reviews.

Mr. Jarvis said that the team had had “very constructive discussions” with the government and with the National Bank.

“The authorities made important decisions at the outset of the program which are helping them now,” he said. “The devaluation of the rubel on January 2 and the peg to a basket of currencies have reduced Belarus’s vulnerability to the external shocks it is facing. The decision to pursue a balanced budget in 2008 and 2009 and the work that the Ministry of Finance is doing to achieve this provide a sound foundation for macroeconomic stability.”

Mr. Jarvis and the team will return to Minsk in late April or early May for the first review mission of the IMF-supported program.

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