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 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.