Minister of Finance Gintarė Skaistė Urges the World Bank to Suspend Activities in Belarus

Minister of Finance Gintarė Skaistė together with other World Bank Nordic and Baltic Governors participated in the virtual meeting with the President of the World Bank Group David Malpass and in a bilateral meeting with the incoming World Bank Executive Director for the Nordic-Baltic constituency Lene Lind. During the meetings, in addition to other issues on the World Bank agenda, at the initiative of Lithuania the issue was raised concerning the World Bank’s policy towards Belarus and involvement in the country.

During the meetings the Minister of Finance stressed that following the actions of Belarus concerning forced passenger plane landing and continued repressions against the opposition, the World Bank should reassess its involvement in Belarus and take a decision on the suspension of its activities in the country.

“In the light of recent serious developments, I urge the World Bank to take necessary measures against the Belarusian regime by not starting any new projects in the country and suspending indefinitely the implementation of ongoing projects. We see the risk that further implementation of existing projects may be beneficial to the regime. This also poses reputational risks to the institution itself. The international community, including international financial institutions, must send a clear and united response to the Belarusian regime," said Minister of Finance G. Skaistė.

Currently, there are 23 active World Bank Group projects in Belarus and another 3 private sector projects in the pipeline. The total amount of previously approved projects is more than USD 1.5 billion.

The Minister stressed that in response to the growing repressions in Belarus and the threat posed to the international community, other financial institutions must also look at all possible options to limit the activities in Belarus.

Other issues on the World Bank agenda were also discussed during the meetings, including support for developing economies in recovery from the COVID-19 shock and long-term priorities for development cooperation ranging from poverty reduction and inclusive growth to the transition to higher value-added growth models. The channels for mobilizing private sector financing for development and the role of the World Bank in the fight against climate change were also discussed in the meetings.

“The Nordic-Baltic cooperation is particularly strong in the context of the World Bank. Constituency’s teamwork, collaboration and constructive voice ensure that the position of Nordic-Baltic countries is well heard and appreciated. Lithuania sees the World Bank as one of most important and effective institutions whose projects in developing countries contribute to poverty reduction and economic development," said Minister of Finance G. Skaistė.

By participating in the activities of the World Bank, Lithuania aims to contribute to global efforts to reduce poverty in developing countries by helping to create and foster democracy, security and stability, as well as to promote human rights and gender equality.

Additional information:

The World Bank is an international financial institution established in 1944. Lithuania joined the World Bank in 1992. Since 2002 Lithuania has not been borrowing from the World Bank, and in 2006 started the process of changing its status at the World Bank from the recipient to the donor, which was completed in 2015. Further cooperation between the World Bank and Lithuania is based on partnership and sharing of experience. At the World Bank, Lithuania belongs to the Nordic-Baltic Constituency.

The main objective of the World Bank is to reduce global poverty by improving conditions for investments, job creation and sustainable growth.

The World Bank consists of 5 organisations: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Development Association, International Finance Corporation, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

In spring 2020, at the start of the pandemic, the World Bank approved the support package for developing countries and committed to provide support and financing of USD 160 billion by June of the current year. The funds of this programme are designated not only for containment of the crisis, but also for a broader economic programme in developing countries to ensure economic recovery and further development. The World Bank is also putting significant efforts to ensure the supply of vaccines in developing countries. In October 2020, the World Bank approved a USD 12 billion package for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and their distribution in developing countries.