Top Soviet Banker Sees Need for Western Loan

MOSCOW -- The Soviet Union's top central banker, Viktor Gerashchenko, said Moscow would welcome a bridging loan from Western banks to help clear up commercial debt arrears and improve the country's overall credit rating.

Such a loan "would make things easier," and its size would depend on how much foreign creditors were prepared to support the Soviet Union, said Mr. Gerashchenko, chairman of the Soviet State Bank.

Up to $3 Billion in Late Payments

Late payments by Soviet companies to foreign suppliers totaled $2.5 billion to $3 billion, he said. "The best thing would be just to delete this delay in repayments ... get a [credit] line in the order of $3 billion which can be used for repayments."

He spoke before going to Thailand for the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

"The difference between minimum and maximum [credit] could be enormous," Mr. Gerashchenko said. "We just hope that our associate status at the IMF could give certain signals to the Western banking community." The Soviet Union obtained this IMF status last weekend, giving it access to technical aid but not to credits.

Uses for Any Western Financial Aid

The State Bank chief said foreign financing could go toward stabilizing the Soviet economy and reforms that would motivate people to work harder, produce more goods for export, and reduce the country's high import bill.

Mr. Gerashchenko said the Soviet Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs, which services Soviet state debt, had suffered from some companies' repayment problems since the beginning of 1990.

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