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.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.