Belarus delaying integration with Russia: Russian Deputy Premier

Delaying the introduction of single currency in Russia and Belarus means that Belarus is protracting the two countries' integration process, Russian Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin believes. Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko rejected recently the proposal of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to sign the agreement introducing the Russian ruble in Belarus, previously co-ordinated by the two countries' cabinets and national banks.

The Russian deputy premier said the Belarussian actions were "an attempt to improve their financial state." He believes that introducing a single currency in Russia and Belarus aspiring to a union state would be more efficient for the Belarussian economy.

According to Kudrin, inflation in Belarus would drop from the current 30% to the Russian level of 10%.

The introduction of a single currency would also be beneficial for the citizens of Belarus, as it would increase the reliability of their savings.

Kudrin said Lukashenko's statement that Belarus could lose from introducing a single currency with Russia was "strange". "The introduction of a single currency is beneficial both to business and citizens of both countries," the deputy premier said.

Moreover, speaking about possible compensations to Belarus after the single currency introduction is, according to Kudrin, as strange as if "Russia was joining the WTO or, one day, the EU and demanded a compensation for the accession." Russian deputy premier said that market integration is a mutually advantageous process, aimed at increasing the efficiency of national economies, and such integration "is a world-wide objective".

According to Kudrin, "Minsk does not fully realise the positive opportunities" opened by the two countries' integration.

Protracting the integration by the Belarussian authorities is "an attempt to use a pretext to improve their financial state, not related to the consequences of the single currency introduction," the Russian deputy minister believes.

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