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 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.