Belarusian economy is unlikely to get out of recession thanks to government measures planned for 2016
The government promulgated a series of measures to implement the 2016 forecast, which largely repeat those never-completed in 2015. The government has neither set new tasks, nor has aimed to strengthen the private property institute in Belarus, which means that the economic situation will continue to deteriorate and forecast for 2016 will be failed.
In order to ensure compliance with the parameters of Belarus’ socio-economic development for 2016, the Council of Ministers and the National Bank of Belarus have approved a package of measures, consisting of 93 points required to achieve economic growth forecast at 0.3% in 2016. They have envisaged diversification of exports and a decrease in the EEU share in total export to 37.3%. The government will continue to finance the purchase of domestic equipment with a total worth BYR 1 trillion. The "Asset Management Agency" will be established in order to improve financial health of agricultural enterprises. Unemployment rate is projected at 2% maximum and targeted support for the most disadvantaged social groups should improve.
Most of these measures have been listed in the similar document for 2015. In 2015, the economy was expected to grow at 0.2%-0.7%, labour productivity was projected to grow, so as people’s incomes. Preliminary data for 2015 marked the economic slump by 3.9%, labour productivity decrease by 2.5%, and real wages fall by 5.6%. The forecast has failed due to unfavourable oil prices, leading to lower revenues and negative trends on the Russian market.
The situation on the Russian market is unlikely to improve in 2016, as the revised forecast of the Russian Economic Development Ministry says. Export diversification requires a significant time period, and taking into account the structure of Belarusian exports to non-CIS countries, a significant proportion of which occupy petroleum products, the share of the EEU market will only increase. Support for domestic machine-building enterprises and possible debt relief for agricultural companies will only briefly improve their financial health, while depriving profitable enterprises of financial resources for development.
The government’s plan also lacks most important measures for the innovation development of Belarus - an inviolable right to private property, a stable regulatory framework and a review of approaches to investors. Without resolving these issues, Belarusian socio-economic model is doomed to failure and the existing situation will not be improved.
Overall, most of the measures proposed for the implementation of the forecast for 2016 have been replicated from 2015. Given the lack of appropriate solutions for Belarus’ innovative development in 2016, economic growth is unlikely, while negative trends may enhance and the national currency is likely to continue to weaken.
Photo: "Belarus Partisan"
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.