Belneftekhim is no longer pegging fuel prices to the dollar

April 22, 2016 19:26

Amid the fall in oil prices on the world market and lower prices for petroleum products in Russia, Belneftekhim was prompted to abandon the peg of fuel prices to the dollar in Belarus. In September 2014, AI-92-K5-Euro fuel price was set at USD 1 per litre and was indexed depending on the BYR exchange rate, which lead to a decline in fuel sales by 20%. The price on the domestic market will become more flexible and fluctuations of the BYR exchange rate will not lead to higher retail prices at petrol stations. However, due to the tax manoeuvre in Russia, as of January 1st, 2016, fuel prices might go up in Belarus. If excise tax on fuel remains unchanged, the state will boost its efforts in fighting against non-centralized fuel supply by individuals; and if oil prices continue to fall on the world market, supplies may reduce fuel prices for their distribution networks inside Belarus. Excise duty on fuel is of the main sources of budget revenues and the authorities will not agree to peg fuel prices in Belarus directly to the export prices for petroleum products.

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The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.

In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.

The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.

There are no recent independent polls about people’s attitude about the death penalty in Belarus. Apparently, this issue is not a priority for the population. In many ways, public opinion about the abolition of the death penalty would depend on the tone of the state-owned media reports.

That said, the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church stand for the abolition of the capital punishment, however their efforts in this regard only limit to public statements about their stance. Simultaneously, the authorities could have influenced public opinion about the death penalty through a focused media campaign in the state media. As they did, for example, with the nuclear power plant construction in Astravets. Initially unpopular project of the NPP construction was broadly promoted in the state media, and eventually, according to independent pollsters, was accepted by most population.