Belarus risks devaluation due to IMF forecast of dwindling gold reserves by year-end
According to the IMF forecast, Belarus’ international reserve assets may drop to USD 2.5 billion or 0.8 months worth of imports by late 2015. It is noteworthy that devaluation in 2009 and 2011 occurred when the level of gold reserves fell below one-month worth of imports. In order to prevent devaluation the government may undertake the following measures: carry out wage freeze policy in order to preserve net sales of foreign currency on the domestic foreign exchange market; step-up its talks with international creditors in order to place new bond issues on international markets; maintain high interest rates (6%) on foreign currency deposits in Belarusian banks for the population; increase pressure on importers in order to curtail imports; and adjust government programmes so that to reduce imports of equipment and raw materials in 2015.
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.