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