Oil duties raised
Belarus increased export duties on oil and oil products exported outside the Customs Union territory. This decision of the Council of Ministers of 19 April 2011 № 557 came into force on 1 May.
Export duty on petrol went up to USD 408 per tonne, or 90% of the oil duty replacing the recent 67%, the growth on remaining fuel oil and oil products is not that significant.
Belarus was forced to raise export duty rates on petroleum products following Russia. The latter used such measures to saturate the domestic market with petrol.
In these new circumstances export of petrol by Belarusian refineries becomes unprofitable, and given the high proportion of loss-making sales of petroleum products on the domestic market jeopardizes the profitability of Belarusian oil refining as a whole.
Therefore, refineries asked the government to revoke the binding obligatory sale of 30% of foreign currency earnings. Refineries refer to the difficult financial situation and losses in the first quarter, as a result of: 1. growing world oil prices, 2. changes of conditions for importers of Russian oil (oil price this year includes high rewards for Russian oil barons,) 3. lagging growth of export prices for petroleum products from the raw materials prices, 4. growing consumption of fuel at the domestic market, 5. the need to purchase the entire volume of oil with the shortage of currency to pay for it. It is unlikely that the request of the refineries will be met.
However, the main item of the Belarusian petroleum products export is diesel fuel (40%) and residual fuel (40%) rather than petrol (20%), this casts doubt on the apocalyptic threats by some analysts, in particular the Financial News Agency, which is close to the Russian oil companies. It is obvious that Russian oil companies would be interested in re-exporting petrol from the Belarusian oil refineries to Russia, however so far Belarusian refineries do not consider this option.
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.