Energy sector to recover losses through higher tariffs for population
Belarusian Energy Ministry said that electricity tariffs for the real economy in 2016 would not change. As of September 1st, 2015, losses in the energy sector totalled BYR 77.3 billion and were mainly due to the significant volume of foreign loans for the modernization of the energy system and revaluation of the credit cost after the national currency devaluation. In the future, industrial enterprises will continue accumulating bad debts for electricity, and tariffs for the population will increase in order to cover the losses of the energy companies, control over organisations paying their electricity bills will be tightened, and the industry will gradually get rid of non-core assets in order to further reduce costs. Cost of electricity is largely dependent on the BYR exchange rate due to the use of foreign currency to purchase natural gas and electricity. If the Belarusian rouble is devalued, electricity tariffs for the population may grow faster than incomes.
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.