Belarusian delegation in Venezuela
The Belarusian Delegation, headed by the First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Vladimir Semashko, visited Venezuela on 26 – 30 April.
The members of the delegation included Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik, Deputy Minister of Architecture and Construction Sergei Lastochkin, Deputy Industry Minister Gennadiy Sviderski, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Foodstuffs Leonid Marynich, Deputy Chairman of the Belneftekhim, Vladimir Volkov, as well as representatives of several Belarusian enterprises.
Comment. In addition to the existing extensive programme of the Belarusian-Venezuelan cooperation on the construction of Venezuelan sites, it appears that the parties will discuss other issues, primarily economic. However, given the current economic crisis in Venezuela, one should not expect significant funds coming to Belarus from them.
Belarus buys oil from Venezuela for almost $ 800 per tonne, while Russia supplies at $ 430. Moreover, the current contract with Russia obliges Belarus to buy 22 million tons of oil, which makes economically inefficient the purchase of 4 million tons of the overseas oil. It is possible that the subject of negotiations (given Vladimir Semashko’s role of Energy supervisor in the country) will concern the prospects and the outcome of the diversification of oil supplies to Belarus and the end of the “Venezuelan” project (Azeri oil supply was also virtually frozen, only 600 million tons of oil were supplied from the needed 800 million tons, Mozyr oil refinery is closed in April and for the following two months for repairs, i.e. in addition to the controversial economic effect of the project, Belarus is physically not able to process the Venezuelan crude oil). Last week Belarus tried to negotiate processing of Azeri oil at Ukrainian refineries. It also shows the reduced interest of Belarus in the Venezuelan-Ukraine-Azerbaijan oil transport project.
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.