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21 April 2020, 11:37

Lukashenko: Europe will offer Belarus a helping hand to upgrade healthcare

BOBRUISK, 21 April (BelTA) – International organizations will provide financial assistance to Belarus. Money will be used to upgrade the healthcare system, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he visited the company Slavyanka in Bobruisk on 21 April, BelTA has learned.

“Europe, especially international banks and funds, will extend us a helping hand for our healthcare. I would like us to use the current moment to see the weaknesses in our healthcare and rectify the situation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state instructed the government to ensure that all the international assistance from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is used to upgrade the healthcare system. “The main thing for today is to upgrade infectious diseases hospitals. We have preserved them, even in the regions. It helps us a lot today. If we had got rid of them as some countries did, we would have faced the situation we can see in the Western Europe today,” the president said.

As BelTA reported earlier, the International Monetary Fund is considering Belarus' application for rapid financing due to the deterioration of the global economic situation. “The European department of the International Monetary Fund has already made a positive decision on granting financial resources to Belarus. The IMF Executive Board is expected to decide on the matter by the end of April,” the Finance Ministry said.

Previously the IMF stated it is ready to provide up to $40 billion for this purpose to the countries with an average level of income taking into account the drastic deterioration of the global economic situation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Depending on the terms of access to the IMF's Rapid Financing Instrument, Belarus may claim the equivalent of roughly $900 million.

Belarus is also interested in a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) of up to $1 billion to support the economic sectors that suffered most from the COVID-19 outbreak. The matter was discussed between Belarus' First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Krutoi and EBRD Vice President Alain Pilloux during a video conference on 16 April. The parties agreed to use an accelerated procedure for the preparation of relevant decisions.

An agreement was reached with the World Bank on the €90-million loan. “These funds will be used to purchase medicines, medical products, and equipment for healthcare facilities, including respirators, face masks, protective clothing, goggles, test kits, ultrasound machines, ventilators, oxygen concentrators, mobile intensive care units, and so on,” the Finance Ministry said on 15 April. Consultations have been held with the European Investment Bank on a loan of €50 million for the needs of the country's healthcare.

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