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.
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.