Belarus foreign reserves increased by 4.5% m/m in April

Belarus foreign reserves increased by 4.5% m/m in April
The foreign exchange reserves of Belarus increased by $322.7mn, or 4.5% month-on-month, to $7.6bn in April
By bne IntelliNews May 10, 2019

The foreign exchange reserves of Belarus increased by $322.7mn, or 4.5% month-on-month, to $7.6bn in April following a 2.1% m/m growth in March, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) said in a statement on May 4.

The result was attributed to the purchase of foreign currency by the central bank on the Belarusian Currency Stock Exchange; the receipt of funds in foreign exchange to the budget, including export duties on oil and oil products; as well as proceeds from the sale of government bonds denominated in foreign currency.

According to the nation's monetary policy guidelines for 2019, the volume of international reserve assets as of January 1, 2020, should be at least $7.1bn, the NBB added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has greenlighted the allocation of a new $600mn government loan to Belarus, the nation's Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters on April 2.

Minsk will use the money to repay previous Russian loans. The two governments are discussing procedures needed for signing the loan agreement, Siluanov added.

The minister also underlined that the Russia-led Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation and Development (EFSD) is considering the allocation of the seventh $200mn tranche to Minsk. In October 2018, the EFSD allocated the sixth $200mn support tranche to cash-strapped Belarus from the lender's $2bn loan agreed with Minsk in 2016.

The allocation of the tranche followed reports that Moscow intends to suspend the allocation of new tranches from $2bn support package agreed between Minsk and the EFSD, as well as suspend negotiations on a new $1bn intergovernmental loan, which could be a painful blow for the reserves.

Meanwhile, Belarus faces a new economic crisis if Minsk fails to secure full compensation from Russia for losses triggered by the latter’s new energy taxation system (the so-called tax manoeuvre), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in a statement in January.

According to the Belarusian finance ministry, the country’s budget revenue losses from the tax manoeuvre in 2019 alone were estimated at BYN600mn ($300mn), and that the losses might total $2bn by the end of 2024.

On December 8, a spokesperson with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in a televised interview that Minsk already lost $3.6bn due to Russia's cut of energy subsidies to Belarus. Due to Moscow's 'tax manoeuvre' Belarus will lose extra $11bn within the next four years, the spokesperson added.

In November 2018, Yermolovich told journalists that Minsk should repay around $5.4bn of the state debt in 2019-2020. "Some of the $5.4bn will be refinanced. In the to-be-refinanced part $2bn will be raised as untied credit resources, which we are going to get abroad by floating the relevant bonds for a broad spectrum of investors," he said.