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.
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.