Russia, Belarus to introduce single currency unit

Russia and Belarus have closely approached an important frontier-the introduction of a single currency unit on January 1, 2005, Russian Premier Mikhail Kasyanov told the 7th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

According to his words, Russia and Belarus have the closest relationship of all countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The fact that the Russian and Belarussian economies are growing closer makes the countries more competitive from an international point of view, he observed.

In the meantime, Vladimir Senko, deputy Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of Belarus, told a Tuesday press conference in Moscow that non-cash roubles will be introduced in Belarus. Effective July 1, the introduction of the rouble will enable Belarussian companies and enterprises to use Russian roubles to pay each other for goods and services. According to the banker, once Belarussian organisations and enterprises have Russian currency on their accounts, they will even be able to use roubles to pay taxes.

Officials at the National Bank of Belarus are convinced that there will be no technical difficulties while introducing the rouble, and that the two countries' payment systems are ready to switch over to a single currency unit.

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