The sum of Belarusian debts for imported fuel reached $226m as of the beginning of 2003. The debts of Belarusian consumers to fuel suppliers amounted to about $512m. At the same time the Energy Ministry reported that the situation with payments for fuel in Belarus had improved. For example, consumers paid 97.8% of the amount due to the Belenergo energy concern. This rate exceeded the corresponding level for 2001 by 13%. Consumers paid 103.2% of the amount due to the Beltopgaz concern, including the repayment of earlier debts. The proportion of payments in cash has substantially increased.
The Energy Ministry added that the conditions of contracts with foreign suppliers had become much stricter in 2003 compared to 2002. For example, both Gazprom and Itera companies no longer allow a one-month delay in payments for gas, which was acceptable in 2002. Moreover, Itera requested a 30% advance payment. The Contract with Gazprom provides for making all payments exclusively in cash beginning in February of this year.