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 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.