Belarus may use ‘grey’ schemes to repay international public debt in 2015
Belarus anticipates refinancing almost one third of its international public debt to mature in 2015, announced Deputy Finance Minister Ermolovich on June 26th while talking about the prospects of repaying international and domestic debt in the coming year.
In particular, he noted that from the total USD 3 billion due for repayment, USD 2 billion will be repaid from the state budget and circa USD 1 billion will be refinanced from various sources. This implies that Belarus will receive USD 1.5 billion in additional revenues from the export duties on oil products and USD 500 million from elsewhere. Meanwhile, the draft budget for 2015 does not yet list the said amount in the budget revenues. Allegedly, Belarus expects to receive half a billion USD from the new ‘innovative schemes’, which have replaced the ‘lubricants and solvents schemes’ in 2014. If so, then Belarus’ main risk factor in receiving additional revenues would be Russia’s tax manoeuvres in the oil industry, which, depending on the chosen scheme, could substantially refine the size of benefits offered to Belarus.
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.