Cutback on soft loans may lead to delayed construction projects in Belarus
According to the National Bank, in January - April 2016, people’s debt in construction loans increased by BYR 421 billion, which is 5.5 times less than the increase of the debt for the same period in 2015. The bulk of the debt increase is due to the ‘soft loans’ for the needy, circa BYR 4.8 trillion by the year-end. The state has restricted funding of housing construction due to the need to fund other priority areas. As a result, construction volumes will decline, employment in construction will reduce, bad debts for work performed and goods delivered by construction companies will grow, some construction companies my file for a bankruptcy. Amid reduced family incomes and without the ‘soft’ loans, delayed construction sites are likely to grow in number.
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.