Lower discount rate may help Belarusian state-owned enterprises to reduce loan servicing costs
On April 1st, 2016, the National Bank’s discount rate will be reduced from 25% to 24% due to lower inflation expectations. In order to further reduce the cost of loans, reserve payments on attracted funds in national currency will be reduced to 7.5% from 8% and the upper margin for the interest rate on loans in the national currency will be set at 33% per annum. These measures will reduce the cost of loan servicing, for both, standard and soft loans. In addition, legal entities are likely to lose interest in short-term national currency deposits. However, the overall volume of loans is unlikely to increase to due to the economic slowdown and significant arrears on payments for delivered goods and services. Lower discount rate is likely to reduce people’s interest in rouble deposits.
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.