National Bank’s plans for growth in gold reserves in 2017 could derail
Russia will refinance Belarus’ debt worth USD 750-800 million in 2017. The National Bank projected an increase in the gold reserves by USD 500 million in 2017 up to USD 5.4 billion. This plan could be derailed due to public debt servicing costs in 2017 at USD 3.5 billion. Belarus expects a positive decision on the EEU loan tranche and an increase in the oil supply, which due to oil prices on the world market could ensure additional USD 492 million from oil export duties to the Belarusian budget. The NB would refinance domestic liabilities in foreign currency by issuing new bonds for a one-year period. The National Bank is also likely to preserve the positive balance of currency purchases on the domestic market. The fact that Russia would refinance Belarus’ debt makes the IMF loan not so urgent. However, if offered, Belarus would not reject the IMF loan so as she has fulfilled most IMF requirements and requires a safety cushion for the coming years.
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.