Belarus, WB sign $150m agreement

The loan will be used for the Road Upgrading and Modernization Project. The agreement was signed by Minister of Transport and Communications of Belarus Ivan Shcherbo and chief of the WB Office in Belarus Ivan Velev.

The loan was approved by the Board of the Executive Directors of the World Bank on 11 November 2010. Among the objectives of the program are to create an enabling environment for the development of the national economy, enhance road safety, implement the government’s social policy, and facilitate private sector business initiative. The program includes the construction of four-lane motorways between Minsk and all five oblast centers. The project includes three components. The first component, will finance the upgrading of 53 km of existing two-lane road sections between Minsk and Bobruisk into a modern four-lane motorway. The road sections to be upgraded are part of the Trans-European Transport Corridor IX connecting the Black Sea with the Baltic countries.

According to Ivan Shcherbo, a small stretch of road, just 53 kilometers, will be reconstructed, but it must be brought in line with the European first category standards. The road will have a high-quality surface. Necessary infrastructure improvements will be introduced. the road will meet all necessary transport safety requirements.

The loan has a maturity of 15 years, including a 5 year grace period. The project will be launched in 2011 and will take four years.

According to Ivan Velev, this is the first road project in Belarus financed by the WB, which proves again that Belarus and the World Bank maintain a constructive cooperation. “This is the largest investment project of the World Bank in Belarus since 1992. The project will be profitable and will contribute to Belarus’ foreign balance and trade, improve its transit potential and promote employment. Belarus will be able to attract more transit traffic,” Ivan Velev said.

Belarus joined the World Bank in 1992. Since then, the Bank’s lending commitments in Belarus have totaled $643 million for 9 projects. About thirty national programs received grant financing totaling $18 million. Belarus is currently receiving World Bank financing for four projects to upgrade road infrastructure.

The revised World Bank-Belarus Cooperation Strategy for 2008-2011 was approved in the late 2009. The document provides for an increase of the WB annual financial support to Belarus from $100 million to $250 million in 2010-2011. The move will help intensify the joint work on the mutually beneficial projects.

In December 2009 Belarus received a WB $200-million DPL loan.

In 2011 the World Bank may issue another DPL of $100 million provided Belarus makes progress in structural reforms. Yet, the final size of the loan will depend on the World Bank’s general lending potential.

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