Government is liable for the NPP construction loan repayment
The Ministries of Finance and Energy will be responsible for the use of the Russian loan provided for the construction of the nuclear power plant in Belarus.
According to the agreement, the Ministry of Finance will transfer all funds of the loan (USD 10 billion) to a public institution “Construction management of the nuclear power plant”. This amount is intended to cover 90% of the costs of each contract with the Russian Atomstroyexport for the procurement of goods, works and services for the construction of two nuclear power units in Belarus. Moreover, the Ministry of Finances must pay interest, commission fees for servicing letters of credit, repay the loan itself, as well as make other payments connected to the loan from the funds of the national budget allocated for servicing and repayment of foreign debts. In turn, the Ministry of Energy has to ensure the implementation of contracts by the Russian partner, and guarantee the return of payments on the loan to the national budget during the period between April 1, 2021 and December 31, 2035.
Therefore, the country’s external debt will be increased by USD 10 billion, making its servicing even more costly for the budget. Moreover, given the current state of the enterprises of the Energy Ministry, it is not yet clear how the Ministry will pay back its share in interest and loan. Most likely, it will not and the Belarusian nuclear power station will become a Russian nuclear power plant in a distant future.
The Belarusian authorities are attempting to strengthen some elements of the ‘Soviet’ education to ensure the ideological loyalty of new generations to the state. Most likely, one of the major tasks of the educational reform is to prevent growing discontent with the existing education system among the population. The educational reform aims to strengthen centralisation and adjust the system to the needs of the public sector.
In Belarus, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Ministry of Economy would determine the university enrolment figures.
The Belarusian authorities do not seem to have a long-term vision of the educational reform. The education system changes depending on who leads the Education Ministry and has access to President Lukashenka. For instance, former head of pro-government communist party and Education Minister Igor Karpenko reintroduced some "Soviet" elements to the school and strengthened ideological components along with the de-politicisation of the curricula. Current generation of students and youth have not spoken against the authorities, unlike previous generations raised during the Gorbachev thaw and socio-political transformations of the 1990s.
In addition, the Belarusian authorities are attempting to adopt measures aiming to prevent discontent among the population with the Belarusian education system. The authorities are mobilizing those nostalgic for the USSR and propose to return to 5-marks grading system, school uniforms and reduced curriculum. The Belarusian leadership also aims to blur the growing social stratification in society and to relax social tension due to the growing income gap between the richest and poorest.
Should the authorities adopt plans to reduce university enrolment, they would re-certify universities in order to close some of them and would reduce competition from private educational institutions. The Belarusian leadership is attempting to adjust the education system to the needs of the real economy, to reduce pressure on the labour market and to cut government spending on higher education for specialists low in demand by replacing them with graduates of secondary vocational schools requiring less time to train.