EBRD and World Bank warn against pay rises as detrimental to the financial system
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development warned against salaries increases in the public sector in Belarus as it could result in a new surge of macroeconomic instability after the parliamentary elections in September 2012. The National Bank and the government however continue loosing the economic policy.
A report, published in July “Regional Economic Prospects in EBRD Countries of Operations: July 2012”, says the EBRD expects economic growth in Belarus in 2012 at 4.5%, and in 2013 - 3%. Inflation in Belarus in 2012 is projected at 60% (annual average).
In turn, World Bank Director for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine Chimyao Fan noted in a letter to the Prime Minister of Belarus Mikhail Myasnikovich that in the face of considerable uncertainty in the external environment the premature easing of macroeconomic policies in the country could be fraught with considerable financial and economic risks.
According to the World Bank representative in Belarus it is important to continue maintaining macroeconomic stability with tight monetary and fiscal policies to contain inflationary pressures and strengthen positive trends in terms of restoring the balance of external accounts.
However, the National Bank and the government have been easing economic policies this year. Thus, according to the Ministry of Statistics, gross average wage in June 2012 amounted to Br 3752.1 thousand (USD 445.3), which corresponds approximately to the average of October-November 2010.
A further increase in wages could result in a change of currency preferences in favor of foreign currency and exacerbate inflation and devaluation risk in the economy. This summer, the population again became a net buyer of foreign currency, in contrast, in September 2011 - May 2012 individuals were selling more currency than buying.
The Belarusian authorities could to step up the opposition representation in local councils, should party members demonstrate potency. The Belarusian leadership is unlikely to have the resources to ensure 100 percent pro-government candidates in the local elections. The authorities have exhausted the grassroot support and have no funds to pay for the loyalty.
The Belarusian Central Election Commission has proposed to hold the elections to the local Councils of Deputies on February 18th, 2018.
The president has repeatedly emphasised the importance of the local councils in the power system and the state machine always tried to ensure the necessary local election results. Candidates have been decreasing in number with each elections and the authorities dealt with that by reducing the deputy corps. That said, during the rule of President Lukashenka, his electoral base has changed substantially. Over the past decade, most Belarusians have moved to cities and lost their local roots. The rural population is ready to support the president, but rural residents are constantly decreasing in number.
The Belarusian leadership is likely to permit broad participation in the election campaign and an increase in alternative representatives in the local councils. However, the opposition would have to boost its activity, so as so far it has been passive in defending its interests. In addition, the authorities, while determining the date for the local elections, have taken into account the fact that the opposition is usually the least active in the winter time.
Overall, both, the opposition and the local authorities have exhausted their grassroot support, however new local leaders may still come on political stage, although the party opposition has not yet shown sufficient aspirations.