Market to determine the initial price of assets
On March 29, the Government of Belarus issued a regulation No 285 legitimizing some requirements and approaches of Lukashenko to the sale of the state-owned assets, which essentially come down to maximization of profits from privatization.
The document contains several new and fundamentally important clauses. Firstly, new rules allow all joint stock companies to set the initial selling price of shares by their market, not book value. Previously, the initial price of shares was determined by the market only for banks and joint-stock companies owing land in Minsk and regional centers.
Secondly, it is regulated that the initial market price should be the highest. “The highest” implies that the authorities are preparing for numerous assessments of the market value of a given asset and want to protect their own assessments. That is, for instance, the Belarusian market value of an asset could be well above the market value as assessed by an international company and the initial selling price of shares will be tied to the highest assessment, even though it was not properly justified.
Thirdly, the regulation stipulates that the market price may not be below its par value. In other words, the Belarusian authorities refuse to apply special rules to companies with a number of nominal assets with low market value due to these assets being obsolete, unneeded, loss making or in debt, etc.
Fourthly, the new rules also require all companies to apply novelty of the past year – adjusting the initial price by price index for producers of industrial goods for technical and industrial purposes. That is, while defining the initial, highest, but not below par, price of a stock as of January 1st of the current fiscal period (or the first day of the month following the month of additional issue of shares), at the time of purchase (auction), the price should be increased in the future with adjustment for inflation.
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.