More Money from the IMF: Prudent Credit Policy with the World’s Worst Tax System
The International Monetary Fund completed its review of Belarus’s economic policies and approved another financial aid package to Belarus. This time it amounts to US$688 Million. The IMF noticed some improvements in the legal and institutional frameworks for privatization and in easing administrative controls. The IMF praised and encouraged Belarus' prudent credit policy and reduction of public deficit. It looks like a very peculiar combination: on the one hand, Belarus has the worst tax system in the world, but manages to run prudent credit policy to the IMF's satisfaction.
Following the IMF Executive Board's discussion on Belarus, Mr. Takatoshi Kato, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, noted:
Performance under Belarus’s Stand-By Arrangement has been strong, and the economy is beginning to emerge from the crisis. Export volumes have stabilized, the exchange rate depreciation has improved competitiveness, and confidence appears to be growing among households. At the same time, Belarus remains vulnerable to external shocks, requiring continued prudent macroeconomic policies as well as flexibility in the face of uncertainties. In this regard, the authorities’ commitment to take difficult measures to compensate for shortfalls and delays in external financing is commendable. The authorities’ continuing commitment to pursue a prudent budget policy is an important building block in achieving program objectives.
Guardian: Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan disavow arms flight from North Korea
After the collapse of the USSR, Belarus and Ukraine were left over with large arsenals of arms and military equipment (They were the westernmost Soviet Republics that were likely to become important platforms for a Soviet invasion to Western Europe through Soviet-controlled Poland and East Germany). Therefore the two countries have been actively involved in arms exports throughout the 1990s. Besides, most of arms sales from Belarus have been conducted secretly and the proceeds from them have never been publicly accounted for – state finance is generally intransparent in Belarus.
There seems a whole industry to have arisen of people specializing in semi-legal arms trade like the well-known Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Services of these highly unpublic businessmen are still in demand over the world – which could probably be the case here.
Bangkok court extends detention of five-man crew over Ilyushin-76 airliner, with speculation of illegal shipment to Iran
The intended destination of a plane carrying 35 tonnes of arms from North Korea and impounded in Thailand was tonightstill unclear, with none of the governments apparently linked to the seized flight admitting any responsibility for its cargo.
Ukraine today said it had launched an investigation into the Ilyushin-76 aircraft, amid speculation that it may have been transporting arms to Iran as part of a North Korean smuggling network used to fund North Korea’s banned nuclear weapons programme. Ukrainian sources indicated the plane had originally set off from Belarus. Belarus’s foreign ministry denied the report, but confirmed that one of its citizens – Mikhail Petukov – had been on board, working as a flight engineer.