IMF to take preliminary stock
Preliminary assessment by the IMF experts of the implemented and projected arrangements of the Belarusian economic policy, looks little promising. Most likely, at this stage talks about a new IMF loan to Belarus will end in vain.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission is expected to arrive in Belarus in the second half of February. The IMF Resident Representative in Belarus Natalia Koliadina said, the IMF mission will revise Belarus’ macroeconomic forecast for 2012 and the following five years, review the recent economic policies and analyze economic policy arrangements for 2012.
The IMF permanent representative in Belarus Natalia Koliadina said that the IMF experts could not discover sources that would allow Belarus to increase its GDP by 5.5% in 2012. Mrs. Koliadina also expressed concern about attempts of the authorities to resume administrative control of the economy.
The IMF Resident Representative referred to tightening of the monetary and fiscal policies as positive measures implemented by the Belarusian authorities. According to the IMF, “for the first time one of the main objectives of the monetary policy is to reduce inflation”. However, unjustified increases of incomes for the population, without proper adjustment with the level of production growth, could result in the unwinding of the inflationary spiral. Mrs. Koliadina also pointed out that funding of state programmes via commercial banks still continued, regardless of the creation of the Development bank, which funded the majority of the programmes.
Mrs. Koliadina refrained from comments on the negotiation process for a new loan to Belarus. “I have no new information about the intentions of the Belarusian authorities in this regard”, she said. In 2009-2010 the IMF Stand-by programme was implemented in Belarus, when it received a USD 3.6 billion loan. In December 2011 Alexander Lukashenko said he would not oppose to having a new loan from the IMF in the amount of USD 2.5 -5 billion.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.