Sale of mineral resources as an alternative to privatization
The authorities plan to build the second potash plant with the capacity of 1.1 million tons per year and with USD1.5 billion of investment by 2017. Given the lack of privatization deals, the government is trying to get money from investors by offering to implement projects from a scratch, selling the mineral resources of the country.
It is planned that at the expense of a company GMC Global Energy plc, which is owned by Mikhail Gutseriev, the second potash plant will be built in 2017 with an annual production capacity of 1.1 million tons. Investment will amount to $ 1.5 billion. The Prime Minister said it would be a large-scale project concerning the development of the mineral resources of Belarus based on principles of public-private partnership. A company “Slavkali” which, according to the investment agreement between the Government of Belarus and the GMC Global Energy plc, will become the second largest manufacturer of potash fertilizers in the country and will be a 100% foreign capital company. Mikhail Gutseriev said the first installment of USD 32 million will be transferred as early as next month and that the sale of potash fertilizers from the new manufacturer will be made via the Belarusian potash enterprise.
Experts doubt that the new Belarusian manufacturer will produce 5, let alone 10 million tons of potash fertilizers annually. The payback period for a new Belarusian enterprise will depend on the situation at the global fertilizer market.
Experts doubt that the new Belarusian manufacturer will produce 5, let alone 10 million tons of potash fertilizers annually. The payback period for a new Belarusian enterprise will depend on the situation at the global fertilizer market. Today the prices for potassium chloride are rather high: USD 550-580 per ton however there are reasons to expect a reduction of prices for potash fertilizers.
The government plans to mobilize about USD 6-7 billion by opening access to the Belarusian mineral resources for investors. On the one hand, the transfer of mineral resources to investors will bring a lot of foreign currency into the country and on the other hand it will not require the privatization of the state-owned assets. The authorities plan to attract investors to develop Belarusian deposits of crushed stone, brown coal, shale oil, etc. in the future. The time will show whether these plans are realistic.
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.