Belarusian government predicts zero GDP growth
Due to a further fall in oil prices and the revision of the basic socio-economic development forecast in Russia for 2016, Belarus’ socio-economic forecast for 2016 will be revised too. The main scenario envisaged RUB rate against the US Dollar at RUB 63 per USD 1 and the average oil price at USD 50 per barrel. In early 2016, the Russian rouble already depreciated against the USD beyond the prediction. In the given circumstances, budget revenues are expected to shrink significantly, the cost of public debt servicing will grow and due to the recession in Russia, Belarusian economy in 2016 is unlikely to grow at 0.3% of 2015 GDP. Simultaneously, if the forecast is amended to negative economic growth in 2016, this would mean that the current economic model in Belarus is ineffective. Hence, the government is likely to predict zero growth in 2016, which eventually will not be implemented.
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.