The government launched "systemic" implementation of "presidential orders"
Regardless of the ambiguity of concrete means to implement the controversial governmental economic programme for 2012, there will be no further discussions of any adjustments or alternative development programmes in 2012. The readiness of the government officials to implement the plan becomes a criterion of their loyalty and professionalism.
On 7 and 9 February meetings of the Council of Ministers were held. Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich said that in order to “implement presidential decrees” the government “must implement consistently” the projected targets adopted for 2012 (GDP growth at 5-5.5%).
The command nature of the Belarusian economy and centralized administrative style of management have been reaffirmed. Economic arguments do not have serious impact on the determination of the economic policy.
Mikhail Myasnikovich’s government in November 2011 was ready to abandon the high GDP growth rates and to defer the projected plans for the next five years until better times, supporting their position with arguments and figures. However following a three months fight with the Presidential Administration, the Government agreed to implement the plans and orders of the President, no longer questioning their substance and / or benefits.
The Belarusian government plans to achieve the GDP growth via increased exports and foreign direct investment, acknowledging insufficiency of the domestic resources. Regardless of the obvious utopianism of the plans (the economic crisis in the world, lack of competitiveness of Belarusian products, poor investment image of the country, etc.), in February the government issues formal declarations again and orders all state agencies to attract FDIs and to implement an action-plan to attract them (and export growth, import substitution indicators, etc.). It says a lot about the quality of management in the public administration.
Moreover, during the meeting of the Council of Ministers M. Myasnikovich personally instructed the Head of the National Bank of Belarus Mrs. Yermakova to provide the economy with the maximum of credit funds, non-emission by nature (it is a new trend in rhetoric, which is optional for implementation). In a similar way (without resorting to printing money) the government plans to increase workers’ wages.
The Government intends to increase incomes via increase of productivity. However, the Ministry of Economy assessed that due to the threefold devaluation in 2011, Belarusian incomes fell to ... the level of productivity. Therefore, what should be the level of the production growth in order to reach the level of earnings of 2010? In particular, if budget revenues are spent on current consumption without any hope for modernization of the economy.
De facto, increased incomes for the population (to USD 500 by the end of 2012 and USD 800 by the end of 2015, the year the following presidential campaign), if such a decision is made, will lead to a massive emission and a new, even deeper crisis. In any case, the government once again initiated populist rhetoric. Therefore, high level officials like Mr. Snopkov, occupying the post of the Minister of Economy, stopped paying attention to their image as professionals and men of their word, and started reiterating the utopian promises of President Lukashenko.
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.