Devaluation out of question but Belarus should use foreign currency in trade with Russia – Lukashenka

It is necessary to use foreign currency — U.S. dollars or euros — in Belarus-Russia trade, the Belarusian president said at Thursday’s conference on economic matters. He also stressed that Belarus will not devalue the national currency following Russia.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints recently about the fall of the Russian ruble since Russia accounts for 40% of our export and we are losing money,” Aliaksandr Lukashenka said. “But hey, this is the kind of partner we have today and this is the kind of situation we see in Russia and Ukraine, which is our partner, too. But there is always a way out. If we lose something somewhere, then we have to gain something in another place”.

For instance, prime costs can be reduced. “We now live large, getting fat and thinking that things will continue the way they are now. No, it is necessary to work hard. Every day the government informs me about food trade. There are no problems with consumers in Russia as far as payments in rubles are concerned. If the ruble drops to RUB70 per U.S. dollar, then we adjust the price accordingly. We take payments in advance. It is good. It is the way it should be done. There is no other way around it,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes Lukashenka as saying.

Moreover, the government has been instructed to use U.S. dollars instead of Russian rubles in trade.

“Because we pay with U.S. dollars instead of rubles for electricity. By the way, it is a defect in the work of the Russian government. We should have told them to pay us in hard currency — U.S. dollars or euros — a long time ago. The government tells me that there is progress. Those, who buy our products in Russia, pay with U.S. dollars. If they pay in Russian rubles, then they do so in accordance with the exchange rate on that day and at that hour,” he stressed.

The Belarusian leader emphasized he had no intention to ‘follow Russia’. According to him, the stability on the currency market is the obligation of the banking system led by the National Bank and the Belarusian government. The other things are in the hands of the population, Lukashenka added.

“If you want devaluation, go to exchange offices. Everything depends on Belarusian people. It is inadmissible to blame the top-ranking officials, the government, the National Bank,” the president said.

Aliaksandr Lukashenka is notorious for breaking his promises, including pre-holiday ones. For example, in December, 2008 he swore that no devaluation of the Belarusian rubel was not forthcoming at that moment. But hardly had January begun when Belarus devalued its currency by about one-fifth. It fell to 2,650 roubles to the US dollar from 2,200 roubles per dollar. The average monthly wage in Belarus was worth $400 at the end of 2008, a value that has fallen to $332 after the devaluation., following BelTA

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