India is interested in buying a stake in “Belaruskali”
The Indian government has expressed its intention to invest in “Belaruskali” and waits for response from Belarus. The Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of India to Belarus Manoj Bharti said at a press conference, “Proposal of the Indian government has already been submitted and we are waiting for the Belarusian reaction”.
The Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of India to Belarus Manoj Bharti said at a press conference, “Proposal of the Indian government has already been submitted and we are waiting for the Belarusian reaction”.
India is the largest buyer of Belarusian fertilizers. Accordingly, the sale of shares to the buyer is not in the interests of the seller. For the Belarusian authorities it is important to show that bargaining for the enterprise continues. However prospects of selling it to non-Russian investors are vague, bearing in mind that “Sberbank” of Russia has taken as collateral for the $ 2 billion loan of 30% of the shares thereby having indirect control over the privatization of the enterprise. The annual foreign currency earnings of “Belaruskali” are about USD 2 billion, moreover it needs to attract new loans therefore neither “Belaruskali” nor the National Bank will not be able to return the loan to the Russian “Sberbank”. Respectively, the privatization of “Belaruskali” (albeit delayed) will be solely for the benefit of Russia. Russia estimated assets of “Belaruskali” at USD 10-15 billion, while Lukashenko at USD 30 billion. Sooner or later (2012-2013), both parties will reach a compromise.
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.