National Bank to fulfil forecast on discount rate for 2016 ahead of schedule

July 26, 2016 0:33

As of July 1st, 2016, the discount rate will be reduced from 22% to 20% per annum. The discount rate will be reduced due to the slowdown of inflationary processes in Belarus. Interest rates on deposits for individuals and legal persons will be reduced too and the maximum interest rate on rouble loans will be set at 30% per annum. If the volume of administrative loans reduces, interest rates are likely to continue to reduce in the banking system and legal persons may step up their interest in rouble loans. The outlook for the discount rate in late 2016 is circa 21-24% per annum and taking into account the upcoming reduction, this parameter will be met ahead of schedule. If oil prices grow and the national currency stabilises, the discount rate is unlikely to increase again this year.

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Death penalty discussion in Belarus: yet not ready for either abolition or moratorium
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The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.

In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.

The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.

There are no recent independent polls about people’s attitude about the death penalty in Belarus. Apparently, this issue is not a priority for the population. In many ways, public opinion about the abolition of the death penalty would depend on the tone of the state-owned media reports.

That said, the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church stand for the abolition of the capital punishment, however their efforts in this regard only limit to public statements about their stance. Simultaneously, the authorities could have influenced public opinion about the death penalty through a focused media campaign in the state media. As they did, for example, with the nuclear power plant construction in Astravets. Initially unpopular project of the NPP construction was broadly promoted in the state media, and eventually, according to independent pollsters, was accepted by most population.