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June 15 – June 21, 2020
The ruling elite

The president went off on banks and entrepreneurs; authorities encourage optimism in the public sector

The situation got worse
The president went off on banks and entrepreneurs; authorities encourage optimism in the public sector

By Zmicier Kuchlej

President Lukashenka has lashed out at the National Bank, which has strengthened lobbying capacities of unprofitable public enterprises. The government regards the expropriation of private property as an additional source of funds for buying voter loyalty, in concert with an increase in flat money in the economy.

The president has reassured and promised improvements to public sector employees and public sector workers, and top officials spoke about the state support for public enterprises. Last week, representatives of the presidential administration, the Council of Ministers and the Council of the Republic made several field trips visiting large public enterprises throughout the country.

Authorities continue to alter response measures when addressing the coronavirus outbreak to relax tension in society due extremely unpopular measures adopted at first light of the epidemic. That said, authorities do not question the correctness of their response to the outbreak, they continue to rely on herd immunity and employment retention, despite labour market shrinking as of April and growing confirmed  covid-19 cases per thousand people.

The National Bank has assigned temporary administration at the Belgazprombank, a Gazprom subsidiary. The fact that authorities have flexed their muscle against a largest private bank continue to raise negative response among the business community. The politicization of the Belgazprombank’s case has further undermined business confidence in the state, which started to emerge during the Rumas-led government. The president’s rhetoric has strengthened entrepreneurs’ suspicions that the government regards private business as a milch cow.

The president is attempting to channel people’s discontent with the lack of economic improvements onto banks and the private sector. The influence of public sector industrialists is increasing amid growing criticism of the National Bank and its policies. Hence the support for the public sector is likely to continue to grow. Authorities further rely on purchasing the loyalty of public sector workers before the elections through promising pay rises and other benefits.

The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to seize from banks and private business in favour of the public sector and its workers.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of leading Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries to the most topical and relevant issues, including on behind the scenes processes ongoing in Belarus, in Russian and English.
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