Privatization: what and to whom
Privatization is the key issue in negotiations between the Government of Belarus and its creditors. The National Bank plans to attract USD 3.6 billion in 2011 through privatization.
Today negotiations are taking place regarding sales of stakes of Belarus in cell phone operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) (entire package, 51%), gas pipeline operator AAT Beltranshaz (part of 50% share), Minsk Automobile Plant MAZ (partially), potassium extraction and procession plant Belaruskali.
The National Bank negotiates sales of entire or part of share in commercial banks Paritetbank, Belinvestbank, Belagroprombank (also via the EBRD). However, so far the parties did not manage to agree on the price.
Stabilization loan will help Belarus to defend its negotiating position however the delay or refusal of the allocation makes its position considerably weaker.
The Belarusian government plans to auction shares in 180 Belarusian joint stock companies (either book value of shares or their market price). However the country has no positive experience in the auction sales of enterprises (previous privatization of all profitable companies was held by closed presidential decrees). There is a possibility that the World Bank will assist the Belarusian government in holding 5 transparent sale auctions of profitable enterprises.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.