January GDP growth was due to refineries and production growth
In industry the highest production growth rate was within refinery - 173.2% increase compared with January 2011. However February figures will not be the same, because such increase was associated with a low base effect, namely in January 2011 within the conditions of the conflict around Russian oil supplies, the Belarusian oil industry was almost idle (there were no deliveries, refineries processed the remnants).
In January Belarus’ GDP increased by 3.6%. Industrial production rate was 106.6 %, retail turnover - 103%. Capital investment decreased by 11.4%
In January experts predicted decrease in the GDP growth, the government expected 2% increase, respectively, on the one hand, the 3.6% growth in GDP is very positive. On the other hand, it is not enough against the projected average of 5-5.5%.
Moreover, January stock supplies increased to Br 16021.6 billion or 7.2% of the industrial output. Therefore, industry as one of the major components of the GDP (32.4%) has actually saved January by increased supplies and oil refinery.
Accordingly, in February, one should expect a decline or minimal growth due to the continuation of the stocking up of warehouses. In February there will be no factors affecting the growth of retail or foreign trade. Most industries are unable to ensure 5% growth of the GDP without loans or other forms of state support.
President Lukashenko’s and the government’s reaction to the macro-statistics in February will be crucial. It will be a litmus paper regarding the algorithm of further actions of the authorities. Most likely, at a Governmental meeting or a meeting at the Presidential Administration in March an order to start ‘heating’ up of the economy with money printing will be made (to support housing, agriculture, etc.).
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.