In 2009, the National Bank of Belarus will work to ensure that the fluctuation of the exchange rate of the national currency, the Belarusian rouble, against the basket of currencies remains within the five per cent range. This was reported to President Alexander Lukashenko by Chairman of the Board of the National Bank Pyotr Prokopovich on 16 March.
The President was informed on the performance of the national banking system since the beginning of 2009.
In spite of the external challenges, the national banking system has managed to preserve stability and make sure all the targets set forth in the Basic Guidelines of the Monetary and Credit Policy 2009 will be met.
The exchange rate of the Belarusian rouble against the basket of currencies has virtually remained unchanged since the beginning of the year, and now amounts to Br959.9 (as of 2 January, Br960).
The banking system provides lending services to the real production sector of the economy. The lending operation increased nearly 1.7 times from the same period in 2008. More funds have been allocated for crediting housing construction through preferential loans (1.6 times more) and loans issued on general terms (1.7 times more). Pyotr Prokopovich assured the President that the bank would be taking the necessary measures to satisfy, as much as possible, the demand of the real production sector in housing loans. He added, additional steps will be taken to make sure the rate of growth in crediting operations in Q2 and in 2009 as a whole is bigger than it was last year.
Pyotr Prokopovich informed the President that the National Bank managed to increase its gold and hard currency reserves by nearly $500 million in the face of the world’s economic turmoil.
The nation’s payment system is stable (in January-February payments rose more than 1.7 times as against the same period last year).
The stability in the work on providing loans and credits to businesses, stability of the national currency and the payment system give grounds to believe that Belarus will get through the world financial and economic crisis with minimum loss and as quickly as possible.
National Bank’s experts believe one of the reasons behind the world crisis was the domination of one reserve currency only, the U.S. dollar. ‘We have made a conclusion that there is a need for intensifying the development of bilateral and multilateral relationships by making payments in national currencies, by stimulating the use of reserve regional currencies of other countries so as to minimise the loss caused by the hegemony of one currency’, said the Chairman of the Board of the National Bank.
First steps have already been made in this direction. Belarus signed an agreement with China on a financial transaction which would give Belarus an access to Chinese resources equal to approximately $3 billion on the terms that are very advantageous for Belarus. It is a basis for intensifying trade and economic relationship between the two countries, and it will help raise the bilateral trade no less than five times in the near future. ‘It is a stimulus that provides financial resources for the development of our economy for 10-15 years to come, said Pyotr Prokopovich.
According to him, Belarus is in the final stages of negotiations with the Russian Federation on using the Russian rouble as a reserve currency in mutual payments. Similar negotiations have been under way with Ukraine.
Belarus plans to use reserve regional currencies in deals with all its main trade partners. In the future, it will help cut Belarus’ dependence on one currency, specifically the U.S. dollar.
These measures are one of the ways to minimise the consequences of the world financial and economic crisis.