IMF Says Hands Tied Amid Calls To Limit Nearly $1 Billion Disbursement To Belarus.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is monitoring the situation in Belarus, a spokesman for the Washington-based lender said on August 12 amid calls for the IMF to limit disbursement of new emergency reserves to the government of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The IMF is keeping close tabs on the matter, but the lender’s actions are guided by the international community, which "continues to deal with the current government in the country," spokesman Gerry Rice said, according to Reuters.

Some U.S. lawmakers have urged the IMF to set strict limits for Lukashenka's ability to use nearly $1 billion in new funding that Belarus is slated to receive as part of a $650 billion allocation to all IMF members later this month.

But as long as the IMF's members continue to recognize the government of Lukashenka, it cannot take more forceful action.

The IMF’s board of governors last week approved the $650 billion allocation in the form of so-called Special Drawing Rights (SDR) and said the distribution would become effective August 23.

IMF member countries will receive SDRs, which are the fund's unit of exchange backed by dollars, euros, yen, sterling, and yuan, in proportion with their existing quota shareholdings in the fund.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement on August 2 that the distribution will particularly help vulnerable countries struggling to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

To spend their SDRs, countries would first have to exchange them for underlying hard currencies, requiring them to find a willing exchange partner country.

Western governments have sought to escalate pressure on Lukashenka, who is accused of rigging the presidential election in August 2020 and of brutally cracking down on the opposition.

Lukashenka, who has been in power since 1994, has denied rigging the vote.

Based on reporting by Reuters

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