Russia blames Belarus for not taking anti-crisis measures

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July 9, 2011, 1:30 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Interfax-Ukraine
Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has argued that the government of Belarus is not taking any effective measures to end the country's current economic crisis. "I have the impression that monetary authorities, including the central bank and government, are not taking adequate measures to end the crisis," Kudrin told reporters in London.

Price regulation, restricting market mechanisms in foreign trade and differences in currency exchange rates means that no economic methods are being used to overcome the crisis and that "the disease is being driven deeper inside," he said.

"Of course, we won't be able to see such measures as measures to stabilize the Belarusian economy and rescue it from its crisis," Kudrin said.

Moreover, Belarus exports a lot less than it imports and the difference has become "fantastic" over the past three years, the minister said.

"Such growth of the difference between exports and imports is excessive and is destabilizing the Belarusian economy. The current account deficit has reached an annual level of 16% of GDP. No leading developed country can afford or allow this," he said.

Nor has the government resorted to a phased devaluation of the national currency as a way to boost exports, Kudrin said.

"As this hasn't been happening and loans have been used to eliminate this imbalance, the imbalance hasn't been reduced. The problem has been put off," he said.

"Today an attempt has been made to end this imbalance via a currency crisis and in an uncontrollable way, and the devaluation is producing its results, but it can't produce a final result because a market exchange rate hasn't been set," he said.

A market exchange rate is the only way to put the economy on a new basis, he argued.

If there is no such rate, Belarus will have to impose administrative restrictions on imports and on access to foreign currency. "But that would limit the resources of the economy and the resources for economic growth. The current administrative measures are not serving to surmount the crisis," Kudrin said.

Belarus' lack of effective anti-crisis measures is also depriving the country of help from the International Monetary Fund, he said.

"Help will only come after Belarus itself begins to take measures to stabilize its own economy. We can't all the time be the source of redemption of sins that the government itself is committing," he said.
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