Disinflation could prompt National Bank to lower interest rates in economy
According to Belstat, in April 2017 consumer prices increased by 0.7%, and since early 2017 inflation totalled 2.4%. April is traditionally characterised by seasonal growth in prices for fruit and vegetable products, which leads to an overall hike in prices for food products. Control over pricing policy is likely to persist, including through administrative means. The stability of the BYN is likely to have a stabilising effect on the prices of imported goods. Wage growth is unlikely to have a significant impact on consumer demand due to further increases in tariffs for utility and housing services. The main factor which may have an impact on price hikes, except seasonal one, is overemployment and pay rises in order to meet the president’s requirement – enterprises’ production costs would grow, hence, the final price of produces would increase. The target inflation forecast for 2017 was 9%. Currently, inflation in Belarus has slowed down to 6.3% per annum, enabling the National Bank to take further steps to reduce interest rates in the economy and help reduce enterprises’ loan servicing costs.
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.