Belarusian population will pay for raised taxes
As of April 1st, 2016, VAT on telecommunication services were raised from 20% to 25% and VAT on passenger transport services were introduced. The government has calculated that this measure would raise additional BYR 1.4 trillion for the state budget. Meanwhile, mobile operators have announced changes in tariffs for final consumers. The state is likely to come up with other similar initiatives in order to squeeze more cash from the population. In addition, the tax burden on private business is likely to increase too along with tighter liability for tax evasion and enhanced control over business activity. Increased excise tax on fuel and introduced VAT on passenger transport are likely to significantly undermine financial health of the refinery and transport organizations, and lead to the lift of the ban on growth in fuel prices and on services.
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.