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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

World Bank Affirms Land Reform Loans

The World Bank has approved two loans worth $320 million to help Russia restructure its agricultural industry and push ahead land reforms, bank officials said Friday. The loans are part of a last-minute dash by the bank to approve new credits before June 30, the end of its fiscal year. Negotiations have been completed on an additional $800 million in loans, including programs to help enterprises restructure, assist with environmental management and rebuild the oil industry, said Richard Podolske, a World Bank official in Moscow. Approval of these loans could come in the next few weeks, he said. Agreement has also been reached on a $600 million loan that will help Russia finance imports and fill its budget deficit, but it is unlikely the loan will gain board approval this month. One $240 million agricultural loan will help pay for eight to 15 sunflower and cornseed enterprises, where seeds will be packaged and distributed to farmers. The Russian government and private firms will contribute an additional $85 million. Under the loan program, vegetable storage facilities will be transformed into wholesale markets and stores where distributors can pick up produce to sell at markets. The facilities presently house food to be transported by the state to food stores in the city, said Wayne Ringlien, head of the World Bank's agricultural unit in Moscow. A second $80 million loan for land reform will pay for mapping, surveying and appraisal work to create land ownership records and boundaries. The project, which will include $35 million in Russian government financing, will set up a computerized land registration system beginning in 17 oblasts and 100 regions. Both projects will be carried out in the Moscow region and Belgograd, a region near the Ukrainian border, and will take about four years, Ringlien said. The terms of the loans are 17 years with a variable interest rate, now at 7.27 percent. Other funds will be used to create a computerized pricing and information system that will help farmers set prices for their produce. "It should make prices more transparent so there won't be as much price fixing," Ringlien said.