National Bank’s discount rate reduced

April 22, 2016 18:05

The National Bank of Belarus reduced the discount rate to 38% per annum from 43% per annum on 1 March 2012.

This is good news for borrowers, as the existing rates are in effect prohibitive. At the same time, interest rates on loans are not reduced as fast and on average constitute 50-55% per annum. At the same time, gradual and substantial reduction of the discount rate threatens the stability of the banking system and the foreign exchange market: there is danger that the population of the country will start withdrawing money from ruble deposits (interest rate is linked to the discount rate) and exchange into foreign currency (at the moment the population only sells foreign currency).

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Belarusian authorities attempt to depoliticise education system
August 21, 2017 10:55
Image: TUT.BY

The Belarusian authorities are attempting to strengthen some elements of the ‘Soviet’ education to ensure the ideological loyalty of new generations to the state. Most likely, one of the major tasks of the educational reform is to prevent growing discontent with the existing education system among the population. The educational reform aims to strengthen centralisation and adjust the system to the needs of the public sector.

In Belarus, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Ministry of Economy would determine the university enrolment figures.

The Belarusian authorities do not seem to have a long-term vision of the educational reform. The education system changes depending on who leads the Education Ministry and has access to President Lukashenka. For instance, former head of pro-government communist party and Education Minister Igor Karpenko reintroduced some "Soviet" elements to the school and strengthened ideological components along with the de-politicisation of the curricula. Current generation of students and youth have not spoken against the authorities, unlike previous generations raised during the Gorbachev thaw and socio-political transformations of the 1990s.

In addition, the Belarusian authorities are attempting to adopt measures aiming to prevent discontent among the population with the Belarusian education system. The authorities are mobilizing those nostalgic for the USSR and propose to return to 5-marks grading system, school uniforms and reduced curriculum. The Belarusian leadership also aims to blur the growing social stratification in society and to relax social tension due to the growing income gap between the richest and poorest.

Should the authorities adopt plans to reduce university enrolment, they would re-certify universities in order to close some of them and would reduce competition from private educational institutions. The Belarusian leadership is attempting to adjust the education system to the needs of the real economy, to reduce pressure on the labour market and to cut government spending on higher education for specialists low in demand by replacing them with graduates of secondary vocational schools requiring less time to train.