National Bank measures to reduce consumer lending lower banking sector profits
Data on banks’ profits in H1 2014 recorded a decrease in net profits equivalent of USD 311.8 million, or 17.2%, compared with H1 2013.
The decline is due to the changed game rules on the consumer lending market, which have resulted in banks’ lower profitability. The banking sector is expected to adjust the number of employees, reduce advertising costs, reduce interest rates on deposits, slowdown network expansion, and smaller banks might experience mergers and purchases. Due to sanctions on Russian banks, their profitability in Belarus may fall, and customers fearing for their assets might shift to Belarusian banks.
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.