WB ready to consider extra $400 mln for Belarus

Reuters News


MINSK/MOSCOW, Sept 16 (Reuters) - The World Bank is ready to look at increasing its financial support to Belarus by an additional $400 million in the next two years, the bank's senior official in the region said on Wednesday.

The bank might offer the ex-Soviet republic two more development loans worth $200 million each, said Martin Raiser, World Bank country director for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.

This would be an extension of the $200 million development credit the bank is mulling dispensing to Belarus this year.

"If the government of Belarus turns to us with such a request we will look at the possibility of issuing the development loans in 2010 and 2011," Raiser said.

This year, the World Bank's total assistance to Belarus might reach $325 million.

This, however, would be only a fifth of the $1.5 billion that Belarus has received from the International Monetary Fund since January as a part of a $3.5 billion stabilisation loan.

Belarus -- like many of the post-Soviet republics with economies powered mainly by exports -- has been battered badly by deteriorating demand for goods in Russia and Europe, its chief exports markets.

Earlier this month, the government sharply lowered its 2009 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast to growth of between 1 percent and 2 percent, against earlier estimates of a 2-5 percent expansion.

(Writing by Lidia Kelly, reporting by Lidia Kelly and Andrei Makhovsky)



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