Real wages may fall in recession in Belarus in 2017
The government plans real wage growth in conjunction with the forecasted GDP dynamics. According to the draft socio-economic development forecast for 2017, both, GDP and wages should increase by 1.5%. Economic growth forecast is based mainly on higher returns from "traditional industries" - 0.75% of GDP growth in the coming year. Implementation of 74 investment projects, including state innovation programmes should ensure another 0.15% of GDP. And, according to the Economy Ministry plans, "the state bodies, corporations, and private businesses’ should add another 0.6% from investment projects. Given that the industrial production index is negative (- 1.6% in H1 2016), and that external environment remains unfavourable (foreign trade turnover decreased by 15.9%, exports by 18.8%, and trade deficit totalled USD 1.1 billion in H1 2016), the government’s forecast seems unreasonable. In addition, it should be noted that according the IMF estimates, problems in the industrial sector will not allow Belarus to overcome recession neither in 2016 (minus 3% of GDP), nor in 2017 (minus 0.5% of GDP).
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.