Belarus’s external debt more than doubled last year to USD7.9 billion from USD3.7 billion at the beginning of 2009, according to preliminary data from the Finance Ministry. Nearly all of that was public debt. Minsk said that it is not worried by the increase in external debt, which last year amounted to 16.5 percent of the country’s total GDP. The post-Soviet republic received almost USD3.0 billion in standby loan from the International Monetary Fund last year, another USD500 million from Russia and a USD200 million development loan from the World Bank. In 2010, the government expects to receive the last tranche of the IMF program, of nearly USD700 million, as well as another USD250 million from the World Bank. Last week, the chairman of the National Bank of Belarus said that additional financial aid might be needed from the IMF after Belarus bended to Russian demands on the amount of duty-free oil the country can import. (Reuters)

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