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.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.