National grid and profitable enterprises to take foreign exchange risks for energy debt of loss-making enterprises
In order to solve the problem with overdue debt for energy, the government has decided to fix the debt as of January 1st, 2016 in Belarusian roubles and uniformly repay it until December 31st, 2017. Belarus buys natural gas and electricity with foreign currency, and electricity tariffs are tied to the US Dollar. Credit burden on energy sector is likely to grow, Energy enterprises are likely to suffer loses form the exchange rate differences. Electricity tariffs for industrial enterprises are unlikely to decrease in the short term, regardless of their rise for the population, and the share of energy in the cost structure in the economy will grow. Enterprises may save some funds if they avoid cross-subsidies in the energy sector, which could reduce electricity prices for industry by more than 30%
The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.
In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.
There are no recent independent polls about people’s attitude about the death penalty in Belarus. Apparently, this issue is not a priority for the population. In many ways, public opinion about the abolition of the death penalty would depend on the tone of the state-owned media reports.
That said, the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church stand for the abolition of the capital punishment, however their efforts in this regard only limit to public statements about their stance. Simultaneously, the authorities could have influenced public opinion about the death penalty through a focused media campaign in the state media. As they did, for example, with the nuclear power plant construction in Astravets. Initially unpopular project of the NPP construction was broadly promoted in the state media, and eventually, according to independent pollsters, was accepted by most population.