Funding of state programmes
On 21 June Alexander Lukashenko has signed a Decree No 261 concerning the “Establishment of the JSC “Belarusian Bank for Development”. In 2011 – 2015 commercial banks of Belarus are asked to participate in the concessional lending to agricultural producers of Belarus (Decree No 256).
The government has taken a step forward towards formal implementation of obligations assumed within the IMF Stand-by Arrangements.
One of the conditions within the previous arrangements that were not fulfilled by Belarus was to set up a specialized agency for funding of state programmes (as well as competitive privatization of strategic assets).
Currently the two largest state banks: “Belarusbank” and “Belagroprombank” provide funding to state programmes.
With the creation of a new banking structure the entire system of financing of state programmes will be changed: the new institution will administrate all loans allocated for funding of state programmes.
The fact that commercial banks were invited to participate in financing of state programmes shows that the “Bank for Development” is a pro forma institution and that the government does not intend to cut down costs of the state programmes.
The decree neither lists banks, nor sets the amounts of loans to be issued by them. However, given the poor state of the majority of agricultural enterprises, commercial banks are unlikely to agree voluntarily on the participation in such programmes. Quite often “recommendations” bear obligatory nature in Belarus.
All in all, there is a significant progress in tightening of the monetary policy and in the desire to increase transparency and profitability of the state-owned banks.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.