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.
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.