Socio-economic development of the Minsk region, first Quarter 2011
The newspaper “Mіnskaya pravda” published data of the Central Statistical Office of the Minsk region on 5 May, regarding the outcome of socio-economic development in the first quarter of 2011.
In January-March 2011 the Minsk region secured the implementation of key forecasts. The gross regional product amounted to Br 5.6 trillion, i.e. increased compared with the similar period of the last year in comparable prices by 10.8%, while the prediction for 2011 was 9-10%.
The reporting period has not yet been affected by the currency crisis that broke out in April and the local authorities managed to match major performance indicators with the designated level. Nevertheless, the first two months of the year (there is no March data) have been profitable for 1030 organizations of the region i.e. for 74.2%.
The growth of wages stopped. Nominal gross average monthly wages and salaries amounted to 1,429.4 million rubles. In December 2010 the figure was much higher, 1,520.7 thousand rubles. Real wages in March compared with February 2011 decreased by 0.2%.
A situation with foreign direct investment is catastrophic on a net basis (excluding debts to direct investors for goods, works and services). It was planned to attract over one billion dollars of FDI to the Minsk region in 2011. De facto, during the first two months of the year as little as 6.8 million was attracted.
In April one of the two largest enterprises, i.e. automobile giant BelAZ, was not affected by the crisis: the personnel works full-time, while the plant site is packed with finished products.
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.