Alexander Lukashenko presses for high growth rates
On March 12, Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich reported to Alexander Lukashenko about the results of social and economic development of Belarus in January-February and provided with an outlook for 2012. According to Lukashenko, the economy is developing rapidly and positively, and that “those 5-6% of the GDP growth we have long argued about are feasible”.
Alexander Lukashenko assesses the results and prospects of the economic development based on financial indicators. He believes, since the inflation is under control and the foreign exchange market has stabilized, everything is working well and the economy could be “boosted”. This acceleration is traditionally carried out by money creation credits and state programmes. Meanwhile, the reduced inflation and stabilized Br exchange rate only prove that tight monetary policy is yielding results.
The average GDP growth in January-February was 3% (3.6% in January). Accordingly, Alexander Lukashenko wants to boost the economic growth to reach the desired 5%, but so that “not to create problems in the foreign exchange and financial markets”. However, the economic theory and experience of Belarus and the IMF prove it is impossible. It is either macroeconomic stabilization and slow growth, or inflation and artificially maintained high growth rates of the GDP. A large number of experts argue, one should agree with the recession in the economy, while maintaining macroeconomic stabilization, which will create healthy grounds for future growth. However, the economic authorities of the country disagree and intend to use the traditional means of economic policy.
Lukashenko also warned against the reduction of gold reserve and about the need to ensure a positive foreign trade balance, however he did not say what needs to be done. Regardless of slower growth rates (compared with projected) and existing various high-risks, Myasnikovich was confident all projected parameters will be met by the end of the first quarter and by the year-end. This confirms the dependent and formal nature of the government.
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.