Belarus close to signing foreign private loan deal

Belarus is close to signing an additional private foreign loan deal, Belarusian Finance Minister Andrei Kharkovets said on Friday, after securing a $3 billion bailout loan from the EurAsian Economic Community (EurAsEC) earlier this month to stabilize its finances and stave off its financial crisis.

“Negotiations are still underway and this will be private borrowing this time,” Kharkovets said.

Vladimir Makei, head of the Belarusian president’s administration, said in early June that Minsk was raising a $1 billion loan in addition to the $3 billion credit facility from the anti-crisis fund of EurAsEC, a post-Soviet economic bloc led by Russia. Makei declined to specify the source from which the funds would be raised to alleviate the financial crisis.

The Belarusian ruble has come under severe pressure in the first five months of the year due to a combination of a large trade deficit, generous wage increases and loans granted by the government ahead of the December 2010 presidential elections, which spurred strong demand for foreign currency.

In spring, the country’s authorities devaluated the national currency by 36 percent in one day, froze prices on some staple foods and introduced fuel rationing in a bid to to keep the lid on a deepening financial crisis.

The Belarusian authorities also said the country intended to raise up to $8 billion from the International Monetary Fund to stabilize its finances.

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