National Bank will not enforce discount rate reduction
By late 2017, provided inflation is low and a balance of payments is stable, the discount rate could be reduced to 14-16% per annum. The key task set by the National Bank for 2016, i.e. to reduce inflation to 12% was achieved and as of January 18th, 2017, the discount rate was reduced to 17%. The current monetary policy is likely to continue due to fears of further growth in bad debts in the banking system. A further reduction in rates in the economy is likely to be carried out by reducing the banks' margin. The banks are likely to increase the number of claims in courts requesting the arrest of collateral from troubled enterprises and putting it on sale. Bankruptcies are likely to increase in number among enterprises of different ownership forms. Amid high interest rates on loans, the only option for enterprises to raise funds would be to issue own bonds in national and foreign currency offering higher profitability compared with bank deposits.
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.