By Vitaly Vasiliev
According to data from the end of 2010, the country’s gold and currency reserves have reached a historical record of $6.78bn by national calculations ($5.7bn using the IMF method). Within five years, these should reach $12bn, enabling Belarus to achieve a world standard, with our gold and currency reserves equalling at least three months of our imports in value. The figure is vital to the country’s security.
In 2006, President Lukashenko was photographed next to pyramids of gold bullions (reaching half of human height) at the National Bank’s central depositary. In December 2010, Alexander Lukashenko and Piotr Prokopovich, the Chairman of the National Bank’s Board, inspected the site again. The deposits of gold almost reached the ceiling. In five years’ time, a new room will surely be needed.
Mr. Prokopovich noted that Belarus is ranked 46th worldwide and 3rd among the CIS states (after Russia and Kazakhstan) in terms of its gold reserves — 30.6 tonnes. Precious metals account for 25 percent of our basket of reserves, with the remaining assets placed in eight foreign currencies in first-rate American and European banks.
Speaking about plans for the banking system for the next five years, Mr. Prokopovich noted that achieving the necessary amount of gold and currency reserves will enable us to enhance the country’s credit rating. In turn, this will reduce the cost of foreign loans for Belarusian banks while increasing the inflow of direct foreign investments.
According to Mr. Prokopovich, the country should achieve a positive balance of foreign trade in coming years (to date, this figure has been chronically negative). Mr. Prokopovich believes that agreements relating to the formation of the Single Economic Space, signed by Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, should contribute to this. The most vital task for the next five years will be making the Belarusian Rouble a freely convertible currency — a goal which Mr. Prokopovich