Higher interest rates and new foreign loan may stop Belarusians from withdrawing deposits from banks

April 22, 2016 19:42

According to the National Bank, in January 2016, the population withdrew USD 128.1 million from the banks, leaving USD 8.1 billion, and BYR 2.7 trillion, leaving BYR 37.5 trillion in the banks. Deposits outflow from the banks was due to the new interest rate policy of the National Bank and the weakening of the national currency. People have spent their rouble cash on foreign currency. The Belarusian rouble is likely to continue to depreciate, while the net demand for foreign currency from the population is likely to persist. The banking system liquidity is likely to deteriorate and banks may issue new bonds with yield higher than interest rates on deposits. In addition, banks may restrict access to foreign currency deposits of the population for three months. Current trends on the Belarusian currency and deposit market may be reversed, if the National Bank revises its interest rate policy and simultaneously receives a large foreign loan.

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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.