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.
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.