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Belarus Raises Key Rate To 25% As Russian Rout Fuels Devaluation

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The Belarusian central bank increased its benchmark rate for the first time since 2011 and rolled out other emergency measures to stabilize the financial system as the country reels in the aftermath of the crisis in Russia.

The key refinancing rate was increased by 5 percentage points to 25 percent, effective tomorrow, according to a statement published today. The central bank also devalued the national currency, the ruble, by 7 percent against the dollar and scrapped the 10 percent fee imposed on purchases of foreign currency by individuals.

“The National Bank and the government will in the future continue to take consistent measures to improve macroeconomic balance and strengthen the stability on the country’s financial and currency markets,” the regulator said in the statement. The bank said it will also limit the use of international reserves to support the ruble.

Contagion from the Russian ruble’s decline of more than 40 percent last year has spread across the former Soviet Union, putting pressure on currencies from Turkmenistan’s manat to the Armenian dram. Belarus is resorting to higher borrowing costs and dismantling capital controls less than a month after their introduction failed to arrest the ruble’s depreciation.

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