Belarusians help National Bank to restrain depletion of gold reserves
According to the National Bank, as of April 1st, Belarus’ gold reserves totalled USD 4 560.5 million – shrank by USD 90.8 million since March. Experts have assessed such a depletion rate as ‘fairly moderate’, considering that in March 2015 was the peak of external debt payments. On the positive side, in March 2015, the net sale of foreign currency cash by population totalled SD 243.8 million. In addition, due to some ‘stabilisation’ of the BYR, the National Bank did not have to use international reserves to support BYR exchange rate. Since Belarus is expecting to receive a USD 110 million loan from Russia, her gold reserves may stop dwindling in the coming month. In addition, Belarusian state banks may issue new currency bonds on domestic market and rules regarding non-centralized imports by Belarusian citizens may be toughened. Trending net sales of foreign currency by population will persist in the coming months due to falling incomes and the need to convert foreign currency savings to support consumption levels.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.