Allotment of loans is sharply reduced
The National Bank of Belarus unofficially advised commercial banks to suspend the allocation of consumer loans for the population due to high interest rates and increased risks, as well to reduce the share of foreign currency loans in their credit profile. As a result, it could imply a temporary ban on provision of any loans for the population.
Belarusian ruble deposits in banks decreased by 19.4% during the past 9 months. On October 1, 2011 the amount of Br deposits of the population constituted Br 19.9 trillion and foreign currency deposits USD 3.6 billion. Household deposits in local currency in January-September 2011 decreased by 27.9% or by Br 2.5 trillion. Foreign currency deposits in January-September 2011 reduced by USD 823 million, or 18.8%.
In October the gold and currency reserves of Belarus, calculated by the IMF standards decreased by USD 84.8 million.
In October the gold and currency reserves of Belarus, calculated by the IMF standards decreased by USD 84.8 million. Preliminary data for November 1, 2011 said the GCR amounted to USD 4631.0 million. The NBB plans to replenish the treasury in 2012 by $ 1.5 billion at the cost of the integration discount on the gas price. Moreover, in 2012 the NBB counts on the proceeds from privatization ($ 2.5 billion) and funds of the EurAsEC ACF ($ 880 million). With the expected positive balance of foreign trade amounting to USD 1.8 billion in 2012, the increase of the GCR is projected by the NBB at USD 1.6 billion.
An immediate action to increase the GCR is a must, given the scale of debt payments due by the government and the National Bank in the medium term. In 2012 - 2014 the Ministry of Finance and the National Bank will have foreign and domestic liabilities up to $ 8.9 billion (in 2012 foreign debt repayments will amount to $ 1.7 billion, or 3% of the GDP).
The NBB is aware of the growing risks and imbalances in the banking system and tries to prevent them, also by using the administrative measures. At the same time, the National Bank, as well as other governmental bodies, has to stabilize the social tension within the situation of ongoing economic crisis and rising interest rates on loans, resulting in the increased number of bad debts and the failure of the population to repay the loans at the new rates. One of the solutions is a temporary de facto ban on loans to the population until the rates become positive and lower.
The National Bank, as well as other governmental bodies, has to stabilize the social tension within the situation of ongoing economic crisis and rising interest rates on loans, resulting in the increased number of bad debts and the failure of the population to repay the loans at the new rates.
The plans to increase the gold reserves by $ 5 billion in 2012 are questionable. This also applies to the expected positive balance of foreign trade, and proceeds from privatization. Moreover, the projected growth will not cover all of the foreign currency liabilities in 2012-2014. Therefore the NBB should seek for the new sources of foreign currency proceeds. The ideal solution would be a new IMF loan, since its basic requirements do not concern the monetary policy directly. However it will require changes in the real sector and in fiscal and social policies and will have a strong impact on the very basis of the Belarusian economic model, which is not acceptable for Mr. Lukashenko. Nevertheless the NBB favours the new loan agreement with the IMF.
The country's leadership has instructed the local authorities to raise minimum wages at enterprises by the end of 2019 to BYN 1,000, which would lead to an increase in the average wage in the economy as a whole to BYN 1 500. The pace of wage growth in 2017 is insufficient to ensure payroll at BYN 1000 by late 2017 without manipulating statistical indicators. In order to fulfil the president’s order, the government would have to increase budgetary expenditures on wages in healthcare and education, enterprises – to carry out further layoffs and expand the practice of taking loans to pay wages and restrict investment in modernisation of fixed assets. In 2010, the artificial increase in wages led to a threefold devaluation in 2011, an increase in the average salary to BYN 1500 will not match the capabilities of the economy and would lead to yet another devaluation.