Belarus and Chinese Exim Bank signed an agreement on a number of lending projects worth over $ 1 billion. In particular, they signed an agreement to provide consumer credit of USD 654 million to build a plant for the production of bleached sulphate cellulose at JSC “Svetlogorsk”.
A loan agreement for USD 340 million was also signed to finance the reconstruction of the road M-5/E271 Minsk-Gomel. Also, an agreement was concluded regarding the project “Electrification of Gomel-Zhlobin-Osipovichi and Zhlobin-Kalinkovichi” for USD $ 64 million (first stage).
Previously adopted plans and programs regarding modernization of enterprises and infrastructure needed to be implemented to an extent. In this regard, the Chinese loans are fairly accessible. However, besides positive aspects, there are negative. It increases the total credit debt and external debt of enterprises and the government. Loans need to be repaid, for instance, “Belenergo”, received USD 3 billion of Chinese loans in the past, now it has a very big problem repaying it. The dependency on Chinese loans and China in particular is increasing. In addition, Chinese loans mean that 80-90% of the money will return to Chinese companies. Also, experts often complain about the lack of transparency of transactions, as well as about high (European level) costs for Chinese quality of services.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.