Growth in net profits unlikely to improve situation with payments in Belarusian economy
According to the National Statistics Committee, in January-November 2016 the Belarusian economy’s net profit totalled BYN 4.7 billion, which was 21% more than in 2015. Net profit grew due to the absence of significant devaluation in 2016. Meanwhile, loss-making enterprises increased by 11%. Planned profits from the income tax are likely to be failed due to the insufficient profits at profitable enterprises, and layoffs in the industry are likely to persist, albeit at a slower rate as compared with 2015-2016. Investment opportunities of companies will depend on availability of own funds, private sector is likely to raise funds through issuing of public bonds in order to reduce loan costs. The situation with payments in the economy is unlikely to improve drastically due to the curtailed state funding of the loss-making state-owned enterprises. Banks are likely to restrict lending due to the growth in problem assets on banks' balance sheets.
The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.
In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.
There are no recent independent polls about people’s attitude about the death penalty in Belarus. Apparently, this issue is not a priority for the population. In many ways, public opinion about the abolition of the death penalty would depend on the tone of the state-owned media reports.
That said, the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church stand for the abolition of the capital punishment, however their efforts in this regard only limit to public statements about their stance. Simultaneously, the authorities could have influenced public opinion about the death penalty through a focused media campaign in the state media. As they did, for example, with the nuclear power plant construction in Astravets. Initially unpopular project of the NPP construction was broadly promoted in the state media, and eventually, according to independent pollsters, was accepted by most population.