FORECAST FOR 2012
The economic agreements signed by President Lukashenko in Moscow and the first major sale of the assets of the Belarusian Beltransgaz will strengthen the political authority of President Lukashenko and his administration for a while.
It is also likely, that the proceeds received just in time, will allow the authorities to restore the lost popularity among the population, and in particular, the electoral rating of the President. At the same time, the security forces and the Government will continue fighting for the preservation of the conquered positions, which will only decrease the level control over the whole public administration system of Belarus.
The stabilization period in question, will last no longer than six months to a year. After that period, the acute issue of how to keep up citizen’s standard of living and the popularity of the authorities will return back on the agenda, most likely leading to a new management crisis.
In 2012 the main trends of the previous years will continue: the external debt will grow, there will be a shortage of the gold reserves, there will be some non-transparent privatization deals, competitive ability will deteriorate, incomes will fall, unemployment will rise and hidden labour migration to Russia will increase, there will be investment crisis and the gradual decay of production facilities.
The government has once again demonstrated that it would implement economic reforms under strong external pressure by creditors only. 2012 will inevitably result in recession and deindustrialization, increasing misbalances in the key sectors of economy and flows of financial resources, as well as general voluntarism and unpredictability in the economic policy.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.