Is Belarus on brink of multiple devaluations?

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April 22, 2016 19:45

Over BYR 200 trillion will be allocated from the state budget for the implementation of the Agro-business development plan for 2016-2020. Previous programme has failed and allocated funds have contributed to the devaluation of the national currency. Since Belarus has to fulfil the terms of the EFSR credit agreement, which restrict soft loans from the state, she is likely to attempt implementing most of the plan, while exceeding soft loan volumes in order to ‘overcome recession’.

On March 11th, 2016 the Programme aiming to create conditions for sustainable development of agriculture was approved. To implement the programme, the state will allocate more than BYR 92 trillion from the state budget and BYR 120 trillion of loans, of which more than BYR 30 trillion - soft loans for current operations and investment projects in the rural area.

If implemented, the programme should help increasing exports of agricultural products and foodstuffs to USD 6.2 billion by 2020, and labour productivity in agriculture by 1.4 times compared with 2015. About BYR 30 trillion will be spent on agricultural equipment, mainly domestically produced, which should also stimulate domestic engineering.

This programme is a continuation of the previous state programme for sustainable rural development in 2011-2015. It was supposed to achieve, by 2015, equal average wages in agriculture and in the country, USD 7.2 billion worth of export in agriculture, and profit margin at 10-11%. In December 2015, wages in agriculture were 65% of the national average, the profitability of sales at 2.4%, export of agricultural goods at USD 3.6 billion and more than 60% of agricultural enterprises were unprofitable without the state support. Significant funds allocated for the programme implementation have led to increased pressure on the national currency and subsequent devaluations in 2011-2015.

In 2016, Belarus will start a new rural development programme, which is likely to create preconditions for artificial economic stimulation amid economic decline by 4% and eventually will lead to devaluation of the national currency.

That said, Belarus has signed a loan agreement with the EFSR, on the condition that she will restrict soft loans to the economy. Without the state funds, the agro-development plan is not feasible. In these circumstances, Belarus may try to implement most of the terms of the loan agreement except those connected with the soft loans under the pretext that she needed to overcome recession and increase food supplies on the Russian market.

Overall, Belarus is attempting artificial means to overcome economic decline.

Image: Charter-97

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President ensures continuity of state administration with young middle-level personnel
October 02, 2017 12:08
Image: BRSM.BY

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.

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