Agriculture is likely to lose its priority status for budget financing
According to the draft state budget for 2017, overall expenditure on agriculture will be reduced by 16% in 2017. More than half of the allocated funds will be used to pay interest on loans to agriculture, taking into account the pessimistic budget scenario and anticipated cost reductions in the economy. Agricultural enterprises are likely to accumulate losses and to undergo restructuring, those employed in agriculture are likely to reduce in number and most unprofitable enterprises are likely to be transferred to more successful farmers and agro-businesses. Some bad debts of agricultural enterprises will be restructured after their assets are transferred under the Asset Management Agency’s management. The state is likely to continue to reduce its support to agriculture due to the lack of budgetary funds.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.