New inflation driver
Belarus’ Agriculture and Food Ministry increased the fixed prices for agricultural products (crops), used for public needs to be harvested in 2012. In particular, the purchase prices of cereals (barley, rye, wheat, oats, buckwheat, millet, peas) increased by 27%, rape oilseeds by 55%, sugar beet by 50%, brewing barley by 74%, grain for alcohol production by 2.7 times. Moreover, purchase milk prices were increased by 75% on average and pork and beef by 100%.
The Ministry of Agriculture believes that since the new regulation sets fixed purchase prices, while previously only their minimal values were regulated, the price growth will be under the projected levels. Therefore it is difficult to say to what extent purchase prices have been increased and what impact it will have on the consumer inflation, but we can safely assume that the governmental attempts to keep the inflation down to 2-3% per month during the summer-autumn period will be unsuccessful.
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.