New tranches from EDB require Belarus to reduce state control over economy
In April 2017, the Eurasian Development Bank transferred USD 300 million, the third tranche within in the loan agreement with Belarus and updated the loan terms. The terms for fifth through seventh tranches have been amended to include, inter alia, requirements to improve corporate governance in 17 joint-stock companies and to transfer 45 state enterprises to communal ownership. State owned shares in some enterprises are likely to be offered for sale, but due to the lack of interest from foreign investors, part of enterprises is unlikely to be sold and could be bought by Belarusian companies. That said, if enterprises would come with an encumbrance banning layoffs and imposing other social obligations, sales of state shares are unlikely to materialise. Requirements to reduce the state role in the economy have repeatedly been included in the terms of various loan programmes, but were never implemented. However, taking into account Belarus’ interest in the IMF loan amid the need to repay public debt, the authorities could accept such requirements.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.