Crisis witnesses no ‘shocking therapy’

The economy needs reforms

Negative external economic state of affairs — sanction barriers, falling of prices for oil and devaluation of the Russian Rouble — and low overall performance in variety of branches of state sector of the economy by the end of last year have not left another choice for Belarus. The economy needs reforms. Political agreements on top-level just partly moderate them. The question of allocation of the stabilisation credit has been solved from the side of integration institutes, which was discussed between the presidents of Belarus and Russia during recent meetings. The price for Russian gas in Dollars was reduced. Other important questions for Minsk were also solved. But it is obvious that without far-going changes Belarusian economy will not be able to achieve positive results only being based on agreements. Active discussion of Belarusian economic reforms contains different points of view and offers. However, recently state position has become visible too: combination of mobilisation measures with new approaches on support of export and development of small and average business.

Reforms are needed

Stake on businessmen

Structural reorganisation of the economy will not be successful without accelerated development of small and average business. But beginners alone will not change the situation without state attention. Hence are concrete measures on development of private business, included into corresponding oriented programme, confirmed by the Council of Ministers, and into the programme Export of Belarus, prepared by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Despite actions of some entrepreneurs, Belarus administration did not follow their lead. The question about certification of the production produced outside Eurasian Economic Union — is a matter of principle. Here the power firmly stands its ground. National business (however, as well as state sector) should be competitive in the conditions of game by international recognised rules. The chaos of grey market remained in the past.

Load of insurance of conformity to requirements of international and national normative acts is put on entrepreneurs. Here the state should support small and average business in terms of export, on the stage of promotion and etc.

The share of Belarusian small and average business should increase in gross value added by 32 percent by 2020, while the number of those working in this sector — by up to 35 percent percent from the number of working people. Besides, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Vladimir Makei, the expanded involvement of small and average business into export activity may give considerable economic benefit. Businessmen will be invited to interdepartmental council on foreign trade policy. Belarusian authorities intend to improve country positions in the rating of Doing Business.

Social obligations will not be rejected

Despite complexity of the situation, Belarusian administration refused ‘shocking therapy’, when reforms assume ‘freewheeling’ of state enterprises or transition to hands of private investors. In exchange, it is decided to follow the course of decrease of the cost price of production made by state enterprises by 25 percent, reduction of capital expenses, reduction of expenses for state machinery.

The state aspires to optimise expenses in order not to deprive the population of workplaces.

Presidential decree stipulates measures of social protection in relation to not only vulnerable strata of the population (youth, large families, old persons, disabled people, etc.), but also those who can lose work or will get to difficult life situation. This year, Br10.8 trillion will be allocated for support, including non-cash accommodation allowances. Besides, measures on price regulation will be taken too.

The programme of Belarusian administration is careful and realistic — in conditions of the crisis it is not that liberal ‘road map’ which is expected by some economists. Time will show, whether it is successful and whether its executors can act without spoiling it. As one well-known commander said, it is better to make wrong decision, than to make no any decisions.

Integration potential

Export centre of the economic union

The important place in the strategy of ‘anti-crisis reforming’ belongs to usage of international potential of co-operation. This is both speedy joining to WTO — taking into account interests of national economy, and maximum use of the Eurasian integration.

Belarus will advance the idea of removal of barriers, restrictions and withdrawals in trade. First of all concerning energy carriers, production of assembly manufactures, liberalisation of auto-transportations and other sensitive positions within the limits of EAEU. The country will follow the course of insurance of equal conditions for goods and services of EAEU countries during development and realisation of programmes of import-substitution and export stimulation. The negotiation agenda of Minsk with partners on EAEU includes transition to co-ordinated industrial policy. Belarus intends to continue position itself as export centre of the economic union.

Important place in the strategy is taken by integration project of the Economic zone of the Silk Road. Both Presidential Decree #78 and the programme of export support contain corresponding regulations. According to developers, the Chinese initiative should be used for modernisation and expansion of transport-logistic system and insurance of not less than $1,5 billion of export to China, creation of favourable conditions for organisation of transit container transportations in the direction China — EU — China.

By Victor Andreev
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