Minsk expects Moscow to decide on giving Belarus stabilization loan 15:39, 21/09/2007
Minsk expects Moscow to decide on giving Belarus a stabilization loan, Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski told reporters while touring the Minsk region on September 20. He noted that the presidents of Belarus and Russia had reached an agreement on such a loan.
The government of Belarus has done everything to implement that agreement; the finance ministries of Belarus and Russia have approved all necessary documents and they are currently under consideration by the government of the Russian Federation, Mr. Sidorski said.
“I think the agreements that the two presidents reached should work,” he added, noting that the Belarusian government regards any loan as an investment in the development of the country’s economy.
On September 19, Russian news agencies said that the Russian finance ministry would soon submit its traditional fall amendments to the 2007 federal budget, which would provide for, among other things, a stabilization loan to Belarus.
The Belarusian government started asking Moscow for a $1.5-billion stabilization loan as far back as February, citing the need to plug holes in the budget caused by a hike in energy prices.
Belarusian officials have repeatedly accused the Russian government of reluctance to give such a loan. "Everyone realized that it would be difficult for the Belarusian economy to pay for gas supplies at the new price," First Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka said in August. "Unfortunately, things turned out as follows: `Pay [for gas] in accordance with the new contract, and as for the stabilization loan, we`ll wait and maybe issue it in October, maybe in December.` This is what the Russian side told us at the most recent meeting of the two countries` heads of government in Moscow."
Alyaksandr Lukashenka claimed last month that Vladimir Putin had promised him at the beginning of the year that Moscow would give Belarus a stabilization loan amounting to up to $2 billion for 15 years with repayment after five years in order to cushion the effects of the energy price hike.