Lukashenko: Any enterprise can be privatized in Belarus, the only question is price
On Friday, Lukashenko held a meeting on privatization. According to him, \"Any company can be privatized. Any, without exception.\" He stressed that there would not be a wholesale privatization of the country. “If it is necessary to the state, it will have the targeted nature\", said Lukashenko.
Loans taken out by Belarus, and the inability to attract cheap credit resources (recently Belarusbank has attracted a syndicated loan of USD 130 million for the year at 9% per annum) for the necessary modernization and promoting economic growth and exports, have forced the government to raise the issue of privatization. Privatization, in one way or another, is on the agenda of the requirements of the AF EEC and negotiations with the IMF, as well as increased cooperation with the World Bank, EBRD, etc. All this is forcing the government to raise the issues of privatization, causing hysteria with Lukashenko.
Questions of maintaining power for Lukashenko are inextricably linked to issues of control over Belarus’ main assets, to preserve a dominant role in the economy. Hence the angry and abusive (he estimated the welfare of his ministers, \"a thousand bricks\") attacks against the privatization of lobbying the government and the governors: \"If you want to please the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, America, Russia or someone else, saying that we will sell something, then it’s not with me and not under me.\"
Once again, he has publicly confirmed the thesis that privatization should be solved only with him. And it is only after his approval that any company may be privatized, no matter whether it is a joint-stock company, has all the necessary documents, etc. The key issue to Lukashenko is the question of price. However, this is such a position which makes all the Belarusian assets cheaper in the long run. First, privatization, even pointed, will be of an emergency nature, because otherwise it is impossible to pay off debts. Second, with the current image of the country, Belarusian enterprises will only interest Russian investors, who can wait, apply pressure and reduce prices. Third, the economic crisis continues in the world together with the reduction of budget deficits, forcing many governments to privatize the assets, previously considered to be strategic. The crisis among the elite and in Lukashenko’s entourage has led to the expansion of the government, which weakens the positions of both sides.
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.