Wage cuts and lay offs are unlikely to improve financial performance of Belarusian industry
According to the National Statistics Committee, in January 2016, industry’s net loss totalled BYR 15.5 billion, regardless of wage cuts to USD 328 and more lay-offs than hires by 2 787 people. The main reason for the losses was revaluation of foreign currency loans amid a decline in production volumes. Given the continued negative trend in the industry, further lay offs are on the way, more employees will work only a part-time, wages will fall below USD 300 and unprofitable enterprises will grow in number. Soon more than 40% of large and medium-sized enterprises may become unprofitable due to currency exchange differences, which will restrict their access to loans and deteriorate the situation with payments in the economy.
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.