Alexander Lukashenko ignores the lessons of the past and orders high growth rates in 2012
The government has been forced to plan high growth rates in 2012 and to forget about the plans to stabilize the currency market. In 2012 the economy will be funded by emission once again. The lack of a new stabilization loan will set new tasks and challenges for the government and the National Bank.
Alexander Lukashenko tasked the government to achieve 5-5.5% of the GDP growth in 2012. Lukashenko said, “For those who do not agree or unable to fulfill this task we shall find another job. However after I sign this document, everyone should run around the country and say that it is possible, it is good, let’s start mobilization. Don’t you dare to talk to the media! God forbid I receive the opposite reports!” The new plan, envisaging 5.5% of the GDP growth, controlled prices and wages increases should be ready by mid-December.
Mr. Lukashenko has ignored the views and concerns of Deputy Prime Minister Rumas and his supporters in the government regarding the possible negative consequences for the economy (inflation, devaluation) with the GDP growth higher than 1-1.5%. In 2012 the economy will be funded by money emission once again.
De jure the parameters of the annual economic growth have not yet been approved, however one of the consequences of their announcement by the Government could be that the IMF Mission anticipated to visit Belarus on 12-16 December, will not come. The orders of the head of state imply that the economic policy of the country will resume stimulation of growth via emission.
The lack of a new stabilization loan will set new tasks and challenges for the government and the National Bank and it is unclear how they will be addressed, given the IMF loan in fact has already been incorporated into the basic development plan. Moreover, this amount significantly exceeds the amount of benefits to be received from the reduced gas price.
Also, wishful thinking of Lukashenka conflicts with the main priorities of the NBB monetary policy. In order to achieve 5% growth of the GDP the NBB will be forced to issue emission credits and to review its monetary policy priorities.
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.