Russia promises a discount on gas for Belarus
Putin said, “The decision to introduce a special reduced gas price calculation formula for Belarus in 2012 in the view of integration has been made”. He added that the price level will be determined via bilateral negotiations between economic entities.
Putin also said that final agreement will be linked to the acquisition by Gazprom of the remaining 50% of Beltransgaz.
Putin said, “The decision to introduce a special reduced gas price calculation formula for Belarus in 2012 in the view of integration has been made”.
The fact that Belarus will receive some preferential treatment in case of sale of the remaining shares of Beltransgaz was not doubted. The question is, how much the discount will be and what for. If in 2012 "Gazprom" sells gas to Belarus at Russian prices, its revenues will decline by USD 2.5-3 billion, which is hardly acceptable for Gazprom. Calculating a discount from the market price of USD 340, the expected market price for the next year will constitute USD 250-280 with 20-30% discount. Therefore, at least gas prices will stop growing and in the best case scenario will be less than the average price in 2011 (USD 180).
Earlier this year the shareholders of “Gazprom” agreed at the annual meeting that the supply to Belarus in 2012-2014 will not exceed 69 billion cubic meters of gas for a total maximum amount of USD 17.25 billion. Therefore the marginal value of 1 thousand cubic meters for Belarus is unlikely to exceed USD 250, which gives Belarus USD 7 billion in gas subsidy over the next three years.
Moreover, one should recall Putin’s words that “the integration ratio for energy supplies constitutes direct assistance and support, however is not a gift”.
Moreover, one should recall Putin’s words that “the integration ratio for energy supplies constitutes direct assistance and support, however is not a gift”.Rather, it is a package deal for the participation of Russian companies in the privatization of Belarusian assets and their more active role at the Belarusian market. Therefore Belarus is gradually dragged to the orbit of integration with Russia.
The rapid increase in wages has led to a decline in the ratio between labour productivity and real wages to one. Previously, the rule was that enterprises, in which the state owned more than 50% of shares in the founding capital, were not allowed increasing salaries if this ratio was equal to or less than one. The authorities are unlikely to be able to meet the wage growth requirement without long-term consequences for the economy. Hence, the government is likely to contain wage growth for the sake of economic growth.
According to Belstat, In January – August 2017, GDP growth was 1.6%. The economic revival has led to an increase in wages. In August, the average monthly wage was BYN 844.4 or USD 435, i.e. grew by 6.6% since early 2017, adjusted for inflation. This has reduced the ratio between labour productivity and real wages from 1.03 in January 2017 to 1 in the first seven months of 2017. This parameter should not be less than 1, otherwise, the economy starts accumulating imbalances.
The need for faster growth in labour productivity over wage growth was stated in Decree No 744 of July 31st, 2014. The decree enabled wages growth at state organizations and organizations with more than 50% of state-owned shares only if the ratio between growth in labour productivity and wages was higher than 1. Taking into account the state's share in the economy, this rule has had impact on most of the country's key enterprises. In 2013 -2014 wages grew rapidly, which resulted in devaluation in 2014-2015.
Faster wage growth as compared with growth in labour productivity carries a number of risks. Enterprises increase cost of wages, which subsequently leads to a decrease in the competitiveness of products on the domestic and foreign markets. In construction, wholesale, retail trade, and some other industries the growth rate of prime cost in 2017 outpaces the dynamics of revenue growth. This is likely to lead to a decrease in profits and a decrease in investments for further development. Amid wage growth, the population is likely to increase import consumption and reduce currency sales, which would reduce the National Bank's ability to repay foreign and domestic liabilities.
The Belarusian government is facing a dilemma – either to comply with the president’s requirement of a BYN 1000 monthly wage, which could lead to new economic imbalances and could further affect the national currency value, or to suspend the wage growth in order to retain the achieved economic results. That said, the first option bears a greater number of negative consequences for the nomenclature.
Overall, the rapid growth in wages no longer corresponds the pace of economic development. The government is likely to retain the economic growth and retrain further growth in wages. Staff reshuffles are unlikely to follow the failure to meet the wage growth requirement.