‘Reforms will choke the nation off’. Lukashenka wants IMF loan just for a song

Interests of the Belarusian nation must be undoubtedly taken into account in discussions about the new credit program of the International Monetary Fund for Belarus, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at Monday’s government conference to discuss cooperating with the IMF. 

“The [IMF’s] requirements are super liberal. Moreover, in the end these requirements have nothing to do with the policy the president declared during the first presidential elections, possibly the second presidential election and even now. When one reads these requirements, the general theme with regard to social security can be summarized like this: no salary raises, an immediate increase in utility rates and so on. Communists would say that such measures are meant to choke the nation off. I don’t mean they are trying to choke us. Nobody forces us to take these loans but, unfortunately, this is the formula,” news agency BelTA quotes Lukashenka as saying.

“I would like to warn those, who are conducting these negotiations: if you are trying to erase everything the nation and the president have done in the last 20 years, you will fail. Don’t do it. We have no right to make the Belarusian nation poor,” he stressed.

In June, representatives of the International Monetary Fund visited Belarus for the regular annual inspection of its economy. But their September’s visit was extraordinary; its objectives were not announced either by the Belarusian authorities or by the Fund. The delegation might have been aimed at working out the conditions under which the IMF could allocate a long-expected $3 bn loan to Minsk.

Belarus has been trying to get a new program over the past years, but the negotiations repeatedly failed, because Minsk did not agree on market reforms recommended by the IMF in return of a vital economic lifeline.