Approval of the Social and Economic Development Programme
Alexander Lukashenko signed the 2011-2015 Social and Economic Development Programme, which was part of his election campaign.
The Programme envisages that in the following five years, the GDP will grow by 62-68%, industrial output by 80-90%, and capital investment by 90-97%. By 2015 the country will reach a surplus in foreign trade by 0,5-0,6% of the GDP (currently a deficit of 15%). The active income will be increased by 70-76%.
It is planned that the financing of investment and the production rate growth will be achieved due to credits and external resources. Obviously, the burden will fall on the banking sector, as well as on the state budget of Belarus, which will be forced to partially compensate the interest rates to provide these resources. There is a big question mark so far regarding the attraction of foreign investments.
Adoption of an a priori impracticable Programme could be explained by bureaucracy or by lack of resources for development of a new one, as well as by inability/unwillingness to acknowledge openly the failure of the previous development paradigm and the need for painful and unpopular structural reforms, which will result in lower revenues and increased unemployment. Moreover, it is also likely that the authorities hope to receive stabilization loans or to sell part of the state property and to “skip through” (with minimal reforms implemented) the troubles against the background of the increasing world prices and changes of the world’s geopolitical situation. In any case, the implementation of the Programme is not feasible, even with the parameters of macroeconomic policies Belarus has offered to Russia.
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.