Belarusians should rely on own funds in housing construction in 2017
In 2017, the volume of new housing would be reduced to 3.5 million sq. metres, and the share of individual housing construction would gradually increase. In the past five years, the sate built about 5 million sq. metres of housing per year for citizens in need of better housing conditions. A new approach to the financing in the housing construction envisages improvements in the living conditions only for citizens who have sufficient own funds.
According to the Council of Ministers’ decision No 325 of April 21st, 2016, 4 million sq. metres of new housing will be built in 2016, and 3.5 million sq. metres in 2017 to 2020. By 2020, the share of individual housing construction will increase from 30% to 40% of the total volume of housing construction, and 80% of the funding for the housing construction should be from extra-budgetary sources. All apartment blocks by 2020 should be energy efficient. The state has allocated BYR 1.1 trillion for soft loans in construction in 2020, which is a significant reduction compared with BYR 4.8 trillion in 2016.
In 2011 – 2015, 25.8 million sq. metres of housing was commissioned, people funded circa 50% of the housing construction costs from own funds, and soft loans with a total worth of BYR 41.5 trillion were issued. As a result, housing availability for citizens has increased from 25 sq. metres in 2011 to 26.4 sq. metres per person in 2015. More than half of the new housing was built for those in need for better housing conditions.
The new approach to the housing construction is due to the lack of state budgetary funds and the need to restrict administrative lending to the economy. Soft loans in construction will be minimized, and available funds will be insufficient to ensure housing construction even for large families.
The state aims to stop funding the construction of apartment blocks, it would rather support individual housing construction, i.e. it will offer unused land close to major cities for individual construction. For citizens who have enough funds, land will be sold at cheaper as compared with the current prices.
Construction companies will focus on the construction of individual houses. The number of apartments built with soft loans will reduce significantly, creating some shortage on the housing and rental market. In subsequent years, the state will attempt to shift the financing of new housing fully onto citizens, including infrastructure, and will spend the saved funds on industrial modernisation and agriculture.
Belarus is set to abandon the state support in housing construction. State aid for the needy in the housing construction will be minimized and the volume of new housing will depend on funding available from people and their employers.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.