Most layoffs in 2017 in Belarus are likely in construction and agriculture
According to the National Statistics Committee, in 2016, 107200 people were laid off, mainly in industry, construction, agriculture and retail trade. The layoffs were due to excessive employment amid production slowdown; amid decreased construction volumes, construction and installation works reduced, too; most agricultural enterprises were unprofitable in 2017 without the state support. Construction sector is likely to continue to shrink due to reduced construction plans. Several hundred agricultural enterprises will undergo financial rehabilitation or bankruptcy proceedings, which will lead to reduced employment in this sector. Unemployment benefits will be increased to meet the requirements of international lenders. The Belarusian economy is unlikely to generate numerous new jobs due to unfavourable investment environment, except, may be, the IT sector, which has a persistent labour shortage.
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.