Falling incomes of population curb inflation in Belarus
According to the National Statistics Committee, inflation in Belarus was 9.2% in January - October 2016, which means that if the dynamics persists, the annual inflation target at 12% is likely to be achieved in Belarus. The main factor, which helped to curb inflation, was falling incomes of the population - by 7.1%. In order to maintain the standard of living, households sold USD 1.6 billion on a net basis. Further increases in utility costs will outpace income growth, and the BYN exchange rate would not fluctuate significantly (given there are no significant changes in the regional environment) due to the net currency supply by the population. Retail trade turnover is likely to fall short of 2015 in comparable prices. In addition, retail outlets are likely to reduce in number, so as the average ticket in the shops in dollar terms. In the next two-three months, the National Bank is likely to continue to reduce interest rates in the economy, which would be justified amid the low inflation rate in Belarus.
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.