IMF: Belarus's economy improving, but foreign reserves short

IMF: Belarus's economy improving, but foreign reserves short Minsk - Belarus's economy is showing signs of a turnaround, but the country's dwindling foreign currency and gold reserves are a major concern, a representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Tuesday.

"We consider this (the shortage of currencies and gold) one of the main problems of the Belarus economy," Marek Belka, senior representative of the IMF to Belarus, said at a meeting with Belorussian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky.

An IMF delegation headed by Belka met on Tuesday with Sidorsky and government representatives, as well as with the senior leadership of the National Bank of Belarus.

Chronic Belorussian shortages of convertible currency and gold reserves, and possible Belorussian inability to repay foreign obligations, including its debt to the IMF, were the main topics of Tuesday's discussions between Belorussian and IMF officials, Marek said.

The decline in foreign reserves is slowing, however, and the Belorussian economy is showing signs of stabilization, Belka said.

The IMF is "satisfied with the economic policies conducted by the Belorussian government" he said.

Sidorsky said Belarus's economy is mending from the impact of the international financial crisis.

"During the summer months the Belorussian economy has seen real expansion," Sidorsky said.

Trade and production declined in January and February, but in recent months Belarus has seen moderate but continuous growth, Sidorsky said.

"We expect that this tendency will continue," he said.

By IMF count, Belorussian foreign reserves increased in June by 512 million dollars to 3.16 billion dollars, largely because of IMF loans.

Belarus in early 2009 received the first 800-million-dollar tranche of a planned total 2.5-billion-dollar loan programme.

The second tranche, worth 680 million, was paid out in June. (dpa)