7 Oct 2009 16:23

IMF, Belarus discussing extended stand-by program

ISTANBUL. Oct 7 (Interfax) - Belarus and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are discussing an extended stand-by program.

A source with knowledge of the talks told Interfax that the program could be extended to two or three years from the 15 months allocated for the current $3.5-billion stand-by program.

"The IMF's existing program is on the short side for Belarus, and the sides are currently discussing a possible new program that could be stretched over two or three years," the source said.

The source said structural reforms would be key to the new program, in addition to the quantitative criteria. The reforms would involve extensive privatization, price liberalization and labor market reform.

The source said the IMF was satisfied with the progress of the existing program and that "this program, which lasts until April, will probably be delivered successfully."

The IMF originally approved a $2.5-billion stand-by facility for Belarus lasting 15 months in December 2008. The facility was increased to $3.5 billion in June, on Minsk's initiative.