Reality-based prognosis

Government forecasts economic growth in H2

Prime Minister of Belarus, Andrei Kobyakov, has reported to the President on economic development from the first half of 2015, while making some proposals for a strategy of socio-economic development. President Lukashenko set a clear task: to hit all 2015 forecast targets. “People do not want us to do something extraordinary! They understand that external factors created 80 percent of this situation. However, we have to strain every sinew to find a solution. We cannot wait for improvements in neighbouring countries. We have to be aggressive, competing with others and penetrating new markets,” he said.

Production of microwave ovens at Midea-Horizont

Mr. Lukashenko has warned against hoarding goods in warehouses or sending them for consignment storage, since sales are essential to ensure an inflow of foreign currency and stability on the financial market.

Mr. Kobyakov reported that, in the first half of 2015, GDP was 96.7 percent of the 2014 figure for the same period. The statistic is no surprise for the Government, whose focus has been on fulfilling the tough demands of the President. We need to live within our means during this unfavourable economic period, making sure that our country doesn’t spend more than it earns. Since early 2015, the Government has been repaying its foreign currency obligations, making its largest payment (to date) in July, of almost $1.5bn.

In fact, Belarus has not increased its foreign debt over the past six months, rather increasing its gold-and-currency reserves, and achieving a positive foreign trade balance. Budget proficiency stands at around Br15 trillion: spent on repaying foreign loans and increasing pension allowances. The level of real salaries (taking inflation into consideration) should match that of 2014.

Restoration of economic growth is the Government’s key task for H2. Primarily, this should become possible by raising export volumes and realising promising investment projects — including those jointly with foreign partners.

Preserving labour teams is another key issue, conducted strategically. The President noted, “I don’t want to create a bourgeois or a bourgeois-democratic society, with a gap between wealthy and ordinary people. This gap would result in, at least, a scandal and might even generate a revolution. We’ve already been there. Society would be destabilised and the Ukrainian scenario might be repeated.”

Mr. Lukashenko warned the Government against ridiculous proposals, including extreme reform, fuelling populist slogans such as ‘let’s provide a million jobs’. To create this many highly technological jobs and innovative facilities producing competitive goods for export would require an injection of $10bn. The President’s conclusion is simple: we need reform but proposals should be realistic, enabling us to live ‘normally’ today and tomorrow.

By Vladimir Khromov

Photo: BELTA

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