Industry lost its growth source
In May, for the first time since early 2013, stocks declined (by BYR 897. 9 billion).
In 2013 growing stocks enabled industries to demonstrate industrial production growth. In May, measures implemented to reduce stocks’ volumes, resulted in a sharp decline in industrial production. Reduced stocks will help enterprises to improve their financial performance, however orders to increase production output to ensure projected GDP growth rate might be issued again.
Over the past five months in 2013, only in January the industry was able to increase the industrial production volume. High standards set in 2012 were mainly due to the production of solvents and lubricants. To achieve the desired growth, industries have increased stocks dramatically, regardless of the obvious deterioration in the external economic situation. In Q1 2013 stocks grew by BYR 11.2 billion, or 5.4% of the total production during the period. If stocks had not increased, industrial production index could be below 95%, thereby clearly indicating problems in the industry. Growing stocks enabled to assess the situation as “minor problems of seasonal nature”.
Simultaneously, growing stocks provoked sharp criticism by the authorities, which demanded to reduce stocks substantially by autumn. In May stocks were reduced by BYR 897.9 billion. Food industry played the major role. Stocks reduction in machinery and equipment manufacturing is questionable, because goods could have been sent to warehouses in Russia. In May industrial production reduced by 10.5% compared with May 2012, which in turn resulted in slower GDP growth – from 2.5% in January-April to 1.1% January - May.
Reduced stocks improve enterprises’ financial performance. They spend less on warehouse rental space, improve payments balance, and reduce production of non-liquid products. Some companies started monitoring market conditions and adjusting their production plans accordingly. However, soon the authorities might start interfering with enterprises economic activities again and demand to increase the production volumes, since industry generates 27% of GDP, affects the wholesale trade, which accounts for circa 9-9.5% of GDP, and other activities and taxation. GDP growth plans will not be performed, but the government needs to show at least a minimal increase in GDP, because GDP was growing over the last 10 years.
Following crackdown and arrests of participants in the spring protests, the authorities resumed arrests as punishment for participating in street protests in addition to fines, which for some time were the only punishment for political activity. On September 22nd, 2017, the riot police detained the Belarusian National Congress leader Nikolai Statkevich, the opposition politician was placed in detention centre on Akrestin street. On the same day, after serving seven days of arrest, another BNC leader, Vladimir Neklyaev, was released. He was sentenced for organising a street protest on September 8th against the West-2017 exercises. Other participants in the protest have been fined too. The authorities are likely to continue to use fines and arrests against political activists to punish for their protest activity.