Investment and local authorities
Regional authorities will be unable to fulfill the annual investment plan, as well, other tasks set by the government. However all the governors are in an equal situation, therefore their positions are not threatened.
The Government sets tasks for the regions regarding investment, privatization of enterprises, production growth, budget revenues from foreign economic activities, etc. Previously tasks were fulfilled with either direct budget financing or via state support programmes or using beneficial lending rates of the National Bank or other mechanisms. In the spring of 2011 the central government has lost access to the majority of these mechanisms, and was forced to cede part of the authority for the benefit of the regional authorities. First of all, it concerned the foreign currency earnings, which were left at the disposal of the local authorities. This allowed the local governments to keep afloat the most socially important enterprises.
However, the capabilities of the local authorities are restricted by the general state of the economy and by the unwillingness of the central government to assign more responsibility to the field, primarily with regard to the ways of filling the budget and to stimulation of production. For instance, all major privatization deals should be concluded by the central authorities. Local officials withstand it.
It is clear that by the end of the year the local governments will not cope with the tasks set by the central government. However the government’s failure to stimulate task performance and/or stimulate independent decision making by the local authorities implies the latter would become unaccountable.
Nevertheless, some efforts in terms of attracting investment and privatization have been made in the regions.
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.