Budget surplus may not last until year-end
According to the Finance Ministry, in H1 2016, the plan for income tax on profit was implemented by 37% and for revenues from foreign economic activity by 48% of the planned annual volume. The overall budget surplus in H1 2016 totalled BYN 1 billion or 2% of GDP and was achieved due to containment of non-priority government spending. The state is likely to increase expenditure on stimulating economic growth, cuts in oil supply in July and August are likely to lead to an increase in the backlog between revenues from foreign economic activity and the projected targets for 2016 and the state is likely to require additional funds to repay public debt. The planned wage growth in education is likely to increase budget expenditure on social needs and is likely to be funded from the existing budget surplus. In H2 2016, budget deficit is likely to occur and current budget surplus is unlikely to cover all projected costs without further austerity measures.
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.