Privileges under the mandatory sale of foreign currency earnings abolished
The Decree No 326 of 25 July 2011 "On issues of mandatory sale of foreign currency” abolished the privileges of the obligatory sale of foreign currency earnings. 30% of the foreign currency earnings fall under compulsory sale rule.
As of 25 July Belaruskaliy, Beltransgas, Belgorkhimprom, GPTO “Belaya Rus” and enterprises-refiners of cane sugar will have to sell 30% of their foreign currency earnings. Moreover, the rule will also be applied to the Belarusian Bar Association, innovation infrastructure enterprises and residents of scientific and technological parks, except for the High Technology Park. Also, 30% of foreign currency earnings should be sold by research and development enterprises (exporters and developers of IT services). The Decree abolished benefits for the foreign currency revenues from the purchase of government securities and securities of the NBB and foreign currency earnings to be transferred to the budget from the sale of resources released by the Armed Forces of Belarus. The text of the document is currently unavailable therefore it is not clear what enterprises will still enjoy the benefits.
Abolition of benefits within the compulsory sale rule is one of the requirements set for the Belarusian authorities with regard to USD 3-billion loan from the EurAsEC. Incentives applied to exporters - JSC "Belaruskaliy", CJSC “Belarusian Potash Company” (BPC), two refineries, and the Belarusian Oil Company and others resulted in sales of only 19% of the currency coming into the country. In anticipation of the heating season this amount is clearly not enough to cover the cost of critical imports and payments for foreign currency loans. At the same time, banking experts point out that the abolition of benefits for these enterprises will lead to a slight inflow of foreign currency to the foreign exchange, i.e. about $ 100 million. Taking into account the views of the new Head of the National Bank of Belarus and the Presidential Administration, experts do not exclude that the next step of the NBoB will be to increase the level of compulsory sale of foreign currency earnings.
Therefore, using various administrative constraints and expanding the scope of circulation of foreign currency (payments for imports, leasing, tourism, etc.), the authorities will try to keep the existing rate of Br 5000 per USD for all segments of foreign currency exchange market. Therefore they nevertheless adhere to administrative rather than market rules. However, without a substantial inflow of foreign currency to the country’s GCR, it has no prospects in the medium term (2012). Moreover, since currency at the “single rate” remains inaccessible for the majority of the population and businesses the recipients of the message about stabilization and single exchange rate are unknown. Government’s intention to strengthen the administrative regulation will automatically cut off Belarus from foreign donors and will make it even more dependent on the success of privatization of strategic assets. However, future investors are aware of this and in no hurry to buy. Therefore the authorities drive the country’s economy into a dead end, increasing the costs of future reforms.
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.