Session to discuss progress in negotiations on Belarus-IMF extended arrangement

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Belarus is interested in the IMF loan, taking into account the national interests, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the session held on 1 December to discuss the progress in the negotiations on an extended arrangement with the IMF.

The IMF mission visited Minsk in November to discuss the program of economic measures which cab be supported by an IMF loan to the tune of about $3 billion under an extended arrangement.

The head of state emphasized that he would like the government and the National Bank to report on the progress in the implementation of the agreements concluded during his talks with the IMF Managing Director in New York, and with the representatives of the organization in Minsk.

“There are no problems in the harmonization of the programs with the IMF. The proposals are reasonable, and sooner or later we will have to fulfill them. The main questions are as follows: what the terms are and what the consequences will be,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

The President said: “I want the government and the National Bank to be aware of my stance. And I reiterate: I will not infringe on our interests to please anyone.”

“We will carry out only such, as you say, reforms (these are not even reforms but the normal functioning of the state) which will help us improve what we have. And we will do it only when we know for sure that after the increase in utility tariffs people will be able to pay their bills,” the head of state assured.

Speaking about privatization, the head of state stressed: “As for the privatization, we must be sure that it will be honest, clean, open and, especially, competitive privatization. The same pertains to the privatization of enterprises.”

Speaking about the possibility of raising the pension age, the President said: “As for the need to raise the pension age, the IMF strongly recommends us doing it, by the way. As I said before the election, I am absolutely convinced that we need to raise the pension age and said why. But I also said that we must consult with people. I have instructed the Belarus President Administration to work out a corresponding algorithm.”

The head of state remarked: “If we do not do it today, this burden will be laid on our children. If some people in the government are trying to put the cart before the horse, I want to warn them not to do it.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that it is essential to protect the interests of people. “We must take the interests of our people into consideration. If the IMF does not understand and does not support us, there will be no tragedy. We will continue to work with them or stop to work with them at all. Our people and the state are the main priorities. Te IMF has presented the entire program and I did not reject their proposals on tariffs, the pension age and salaries. But if we do something on the spur of the moment, we will ruin the country, hurt people, and destabilize the situation.”

Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov, in turn, said: “We need to attract IMF resources and secure the best repayment terms possible. We would like to get a $3 billion loan with a 2.28% interest rate for ten years.”

The head of state stressed that this is a good loan. It is big enough and with a good interest rate. "No one, including the Russians, has given us loans under such interest rate. It is profitable for us,” said the President of Belarus.

The head of state reiterated that everything is to be done in a reasonable and well-thought out way.