The credit outlook of Belarus revised to stable from negative
The outlook revision implies S&P’s saw the signs of economic stabilization and improvement of short-term financial conditions in Belarus. In addition, the agency affirmed the short-term rating on Belarus at “C”.
“Foreign currency reserves have strengthened, immediate pressure on the exchange rate has eased, and inflation, although still very high, is decreasing,” S&P said in a statement. However, the ratings on Belarus are constrained by political risks, high government financing needs, reliance on external funding, and the government’s reluctance to introduce much-needed structural reforms to improve the country’s competitiveness and growth prospects.
Belarusian authorities immediately reacted to the improved ratings, announcing plans to accumulate the external debt by the end of the year, inter alia, by issuing Eurobonds – hoping for improved conditions for the Belarusian state securities in the international market. First Deputy Finance Minister, V. Amarin said Eurobonds could be issued “at the end of this year or early next year”. Belarusian authorities consider conditions favourable if return rate is under 10% per year. Mr. Amarin added there were also proposals to refinance the national debt. “We have received these proposals and we are considering them, but refinancing bids fair to be expensive”, he said. Therefore, the government indirectly recognized the existence of external debt repayment challenge and openly declared about searching for ways to refinance the debt.
Belarus’ GDP in the first quarter of 2012 increased by 3% and amounted to Br 105.6 trillion (about $ 13 billion). The projected annual GDP growth is 5-5.5%. Industrial output during this period increased by 8.3%, up to Br 153.6 trillion (about $ 19 billion), with projected annual growth of 6-7%. Investment in fixed assets has decreased by 15.1% to Br 23.5 trillion (about $ 2.9 billion). In March consumer prices increased by 1.5% and by 5% since the beginning of the year.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.