Private housing construction may help somewhat improve housing construction performance in 2015
Amid overall decline in the housing construction in 2015, private housing construction has demonstrated growth as compared with 2014. However, the overall performance of the construction industry in 2015 is likely to deteriorate and private housing construction may only help improve some statistical data and slightly slowdown the overall deterioration.
In January – May 2015, construction volumes in Belarus decreased by 2.4%, which had a negative impact on GDP (by 0.3%). Overall, 2.2 million sq. m. of housing has been built, of which 1.2 million sq. m. accounted for private housing construction. The bulk of private housing has been commissioned in Minsk and Brest regions. Due to high commissioning rates in private housing in Q1 2015, this industry has become of the economic drivers in Belarus; however, it would be unable to remedy the overall decline.
Despite some statistical growth in private housing construction in 2015, the construction industry is unlikely to show good results by the year-end. The volume of state subsidised housing construction for citizens eligible for state aid, has reduced to 2 500 000 sq. m. Many companies have cut or abandoned their investment plans.
Most industrial modernisation projects have been completed. In 2014, in the view of the World Ice Hockey Championships, many electric power and infrastructure facilities were commissioned, which has created a high comparative base for 2015. Ongoing construction works include: road construction Mogilev – Gomel and Mikashevichi – Minsk; the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant and a plant for the production of sulphate pulp in Svetlogorsk. Amid anticipated budget cuts, the volumes of state aid may be reduced, leading to a further reduction in the construction volumes.
Housing construction indicators in 2015 would be worse than those in 2014, however better than anticipated due to the results achieved in Q1 2015.
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.