Projected GDP growth rate is unattainable without oil re-export schemes
By the year-end, GDP growth rate will hardly surpass 2%. Projected GDP growth rate for 2013, 8.5%, is not feasible if there are no new major commodity export schemes.
Statistics Ministry released data on Belarus’ socio-economic development in January-November 2012.
During the first six months, GDP growth rate in Belarus was 2.9%. In January – November the growth rate dropped to 2%. The main reasons – suspended solvents and lubricants exports and reduced biodiesel supply, which negatively affected the chemical industry, oil refining and wholesale performance.
Approved GDP growth forecast for 2013 is 8.5%. The forecast is planned to be achieved via innovation economic policy and export growth. It is envisaged, that in each Belarusian regional center 10 new businesses will be set up. The situation with the wood-works modernization demonstrated the inability to set up new facilities in quantities that would significantly affect GDP growth in such a short period of time. Spheres, where significant export growth will be feasible, have not been named, and projected export growth rates have been set too high.
A significant challenge for GDP growth in 2013 is a high comparative base in 2012. In 2012 refining was loaded to its full capacity, which cannot be significantly improved due to uncompleted modernization. Schemes, used to export solvents and lubricants were important, but their resumption on a similar scale is unenforceable. Schemes’ foreign currency proceeds were substantial, contributing to GDP growth. The remaining Belarusian exports are already using maximum of their potential and there is nothing as significant to replace the solvents and lubricants export schemes.
Thus, to meet the high growth rates, Belarus needs new schemes, similar to the petroleum products re-export carried out in 2012. Otherwise, GDP growth will be limited to the 2012 values.
The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.
In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.
There are no recent independent polls about people’s attitude about the death penalty in Belarus. Apparently, this issue is not a priority for the population. In many ways, public opinion about the abolition of the death penalty would depend on the tone of the state-owned media reports.
That said, the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church stand for the abolition of the capital punishment, however their efforts in this regard only limit to public statements about their stance. Simultaneously, the authorities could have influenced public opinion about the death penalty through a focused media campaign in the state media. As they did, for example, with the nuclear power plant construction in Astravets. Initially unpopular project of the NPP construction was broadly promoted in the state media, and eventually, according to independent pollsters, was accepted by most population.