Social Protection Fund may require additional budgetary funds to avoid deficit by late 2016
In H1 2016, the Social Protection Fund’s deficit totalled BYR 780 billion due to insufficient payments to the Fund. Payments to the Fund reduced due to mass lay-offs – in H1 2016 more than 80 500 people were fired. Such negative trends on the labour market are likely to persist, which may lead to the Fund’s budget deficit by late 2016. Indexation of pensions will be insignificant, the Fund may face austerity measures and the list of documents required for obtaining different social benefits may be extended in order to reduce recipients of the state aid. The Fund’s budget deficit may exceed BYR 1 trillion by the year-end and is likely to be recovered from the Fund’s own savings or from the state budget.
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.