New restrictions on foreign currency lending would reduce potential budget costs on refinancing enterprises’ foreign currency loans
The National Bank has decided to toughen the credit risks classification on foreign currency loans to enterprises, which will lead to a revision of the requirements to corporate customers and will make such loans less available to enterprises with insufficient foreign currency earnings. As of January 1st, 2017, the debt of public and private enterprises to the banking system on foreign currency loans totalled USD 9.7 billion of which USD 0.5 billion was bad debt. Currency lending is likely to reduce amid some slight increase in rouble loans. The differentiation of rates depending on the customer reliability is likely to increase. The growth rate of problem assets on the banks’ balance sheets is likely to reduce and interest rates on foreign currency deposits to the population are likely to reduce, too. When crucial for the Belarusian economy enterprises had problems with repaying their currency loans, their debt was refinanced from the budget. By tightening loan requirements, the banks will mitigate risks of bad loans and reduce budgetary costs for these purposes.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.