State budget to pay for banks troubled assets
According to the National Bank, as of May 1st, 2017, problem assets in the banking system totalled USD 2.9 billion, or 14.2% of the total assets subject to credit risk. The critical threshold for problem assets is 15-20%, which could lead to problems with customer service in the banking system. The increase in distressed assets was due to a significant number of unprofitable enterprises in the economy, which were unable to service their debts and generated new losses. Troubled debts of agriculture would be restructured by transferring distressed assets to the Asset Management Agency. New regulations could be adopted in order to change the risk group for some assets, interest rates on loans could be reduced to lower the debt burden on enterprises, banks could boost sales of collateral in order to repay troubled debts. In late 2016, the state was buying out bad debts and transferring them to the Asset Management Agency to reduce the share of problem assets in banks. In 2017, such practice could be used in other sectors of the economy, the final payer for all debts would be 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.