Belarus has applied to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an emergency loan of up to $8bn (£5bn), which could help to rescue the ex-Soviet republic from its fiscal crisis.
The move comes just a day after the country’s government announced it was raising its main interest rate from 14pc to 16pc, and that it was freezing prices on a number of staple foods until July 1.
The IMF’s chief representative in Minsk met with government officials on Wednesday, the fund’s spokeswoman, Yulia Lyskova, said.
Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich said the IMF programme could last for three to five years.
Belarus has been hit by a dire cash shortage that was sparked by a jump in the price Russia charges for energy as well as massive state spending ahead of presidential elections last year.
President Alexander Lukashenko’s isolated government was forced to devalue the currency by more than a third of its value last month and has been unable to receive direct assistance from traditional sponsor Russia.
6:52AM BST 02 Jun 2011
Source: The Telegraph