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.
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.