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01 December 2015, 13:12

National interests prioritized in Belarus-IMF deal

MINSK, 1 December (BelTA) – Belarus is interested in the IMF loan, taking into account the national interests, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said at the session to discuss the progress in the negotiations on an extended arrangement with the IMF, BelTA has learned.

The head of state emphasized that he met with the IMF Managing Director in New York, and with the representatives of the organization involved in the talks with the Belarusian government in Minsk. “There are no problems in the harmonization of the programs with the IMF. The proposals are reasonable, and sooner or later we will have to fulfill them. The main questions are as follows: what the terms are and what the consequences will be,” Alexander Lukashenko noted.

He said: “I want the government and the National Bank to be aware of my stance. And I reiterate: I will not infringe on our interests to please anyone.” “We will carry out only such, as you say, reforms (these are not even reforms but the normal functioning of the state) which will help us improve what we have. And we will do it only when we know for sure that after the increase in utility tariffs people will be able to pay their bills,” the President said.

Speaking about privatization, the head of state stressed: “As for the privatization, we must be sure that it will be honest, clean, open and, especially, competitive privatization. The same pertains to the privatization of enterprises.”

Speaking about the possibility of raising the pension age, the President said: “As for the need to raise the pension age, the IMF strongly recommends us doing it, by the way. As I said before the election, I am absolutely convinced that we need to raise the pension age and said why. But I also said that we must consult with people. I have instructed the Belarus President Administration to work out a corresponding algorithm.”

The head of state remarked: “If we do not do it today, this burden will be laid on our children. If some people in the government are trying to put the cart before the horse, I want to warn them not to do it.”

Alexander Lukashenko is convinced that it is essential to protect the interests of people. “We must take the interests of our people into consideration. If the IMF does not understand and does not support us, there will be no tragedy. We will continue to work with them or stop to work with them at all. Our people and the state are the main priorities. They (the IMF – BelTA's note) have presented the entire program and I did not reject their proposals on tariffs, the pension age and salaries. But if we do something on the spur of the moment, we will ruin the country, hurt people, destabilize the situation, and eventually lose the point.”

The head of state believes that everything is to be done in a reasonable and well-thought out way. Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov noted: “In fact, we are already implementing these measures or are going to implement them in the near future, taking into account the needs of the economy. The main issues are the terms and the speed of implementation.”

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