The Russian government is ready to allocate to Belarus a new loan of $ 700 million. It will go to refinance old debts to Russia. The allocation of this loan was followed by the end of a dispute over gas prices that lasted more than a year. According to experts, these funds will allow Belarus to close currency requirements only in the coming months, but will not solve the problem of high debt burden of this country.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered to sign an agreement on granting Belarus a loan of $ 700 million with a maturity within ten years beginning in April 2018. Minsk receives a loan at a rate of LIBOR for six-month deposits in US dollars, increased by margin according to the established formula for its calculation.
The Belarusian side requested this loan in the process of negotiations on the price of gas and oil supplies.
Recall that the disagreements in the oil and gas sector were resolved in April this year: Moscow has pledged to restore oil supplies of 24 million tons per year from 2017 to 2024 and could increase supplies from 2021 (in 2016, Belarus received 18 million tons). Minsk repaid its debt to Gazprom in the amount of $ 726 million for gas supplies in 2016-2017. The arrangements assumed that the Russian side would refinance the obligations of Belarus. Then the Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov announced the possible allocation of a loan to $ 1 billion.
The agreement states that the loan will be provided for the purpose of repaying and servicing the debt to the RF subject to the repayment of interest and principal on previously provided state loans, as well as loans from the Eurasian Stabilization and Development Fund (EFSR). Previously, Minsk received preferential state loans in the amount of $ 1.5 billion (in December 2007), $ 1 billion (in November 2008), $ 500 million (in March 2009) and $ 2 billion (in December 2013). Also in 2011, a $ 3 billion loan was approved from EFSR, $ 2.56 billion was allocated, then Belarus asked to refinance this loan, and in March 2016 a new loan of $ 2 billion was approved to support economic growth and market reforms For a period of ten years at a rate of 4.06% per annum). The Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation did not comment on the situation with the Belarusian debt. The EDB, which manages the funds of the EFSR, reported that Minsk "fully and timely serves its debts." "The imbalances accumulated in previous years are still high, so further financial stability will depend on the implementation of structural reforms," the EDB notes.
According to the evaluation of the HSE Development Center, this year Belarus should repay its debts to the Russian Federation by $ 741 million, and to EFSR - $ 488 million. "This is not a credit for development, on the contrary, it is rather a technical loan for repayment of previous obligations. Therefore, in fact, its allocation does not solve the problem, but only freezes, "says Sergei Pukhov from the Development Center.
As of July 1, Belarus' foreign debt is $ 15.6 billion, for six months the country raised $ 2.4 billion and directed $ 508 million for debt repayment.
In July, Minsk placed two issues of Eurobonds at $ 1.4 billion, the required yield on them was more than 7% (the previous issue was held in January 2011, then the bonds were placed at 8.95% per annum). However, even taking into account the June placement, the analysts of the Development Center estimated that the currency needs of Belarus are secured only for a year, for a full refinancing of obligations, Minsk is short of about $ 1 billion - in particular, next year the country will have to pay off $ 800 million Eurobonds.