Sale of mineral resources as an alternative to privatization

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April 22, 2016 17:58

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.

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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.

 

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President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.

President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.

The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.

The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.

The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.