National Bank lifted requirement to register passport data when buying currency as demonstration of control over currency market
As of June 1st, 2017, the National Bank lifted the requirement for banks to register passport data of foreign currency buyers. This requirement was introduced in October 2011 and was designed to reduce the rush demand for the currency after three-fold devaluation of the rouble. As a result, the cash currency turnover is likely to increase due to the legalisation of some shadow currency operations. Nevertheless, the population is likely to remain the net currency seller. Tax and regulatory bodies will lose one of the main tools for monitoring people’s incomes, which may lead to a reduction in income tax surcharges from citizens with unofficial incomes. By abolishing control over private currency transactions, the National Bank aims to demonstrate controllability of the foreign exchange market to foreign investors and creditors. For citizens, this means that the exchange rate would be relatively stable and would facilitate the dedollarisation of the economy.
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.