Agro-industrial complex will remain major recipient of state aid, however, in reduced amounts
According to decree 280 of August 7th, 2017, some agro-industrial enterprises will receive instalments on payments to the budget for up to seven years, for a total amount over BYN 400 million, with no penalty for delay or interest charges. This decree is a continuation of the programme on financial recovery of agricultural enterprises. Over the past six years, the state support to rural enterprises has exceeded USD 8.4 billion. The practice of transferring problem debts of the agro-industrial complex to banks for servicing from the state budget is likely to continue, as well as merges of unprofitable enterprises into holdings in order to improve accountability, and forcibly attaching loss-making agro enterprises to profitable businesses. Employment in agriculture will continue to reduce. In 2017, the state support for rural areas will be over USD 800 million, which will exceed the amount of state aid to other economic sectors. However, in future, support for agro-industrial enterprises will reduce in order to meet Belarus’ commitments within the framework of the Unified Energy System and due to limited budgetary sources.
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.