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.
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.