Most economic sectors unlikely to cut costs by 25% in the short term
According to the National Statistics Committee, in 2015, production costs reduced by BYR 7 per BYR 1000 or by 0.8% as compared with 2014. In some branches of industry and agriculture, the level of costs was critically high (over BYR 900 per BYR 1000 of output), the bulk of cost reduction was due to lower depreciation and containment of labour costs. Most economic sectors are unlikely to meet the requirement to reduce costs. In oil refining and electric power production, the cost reduction is only possible due to the fall in prices for imported raw materials. Only economic sectors with high proportion of labour costs in the overall costs (retail, IT, banks) are able to reduce costs significantly, which however is likely to deteriorate the quality of the service. In industry, cost reduction is possible within 10-15%, due to a reduction in the cost of purchased raw materials and a reduction in corruption during procurement.
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.