With the depreciation of the Belarusian ruble, wages in dollar terms are falling, and imported goods are rapidly becoming more expensive.
“If you earn, for example, 1,000 rubles, and it was about $ 500, then with a sharp fall in the ruble exchange rate, you may only have $ 300. And if for half a thousand dollars you could go, relatively speaking, to Egypt, now you no longer can. This also applies to purchases, buying things,” says economic observer Alyaksandr Zayats.
Belarusians lined up at exchangers: some came there to convert their ruble savings into foreign currency, others to buy dollars and euros to travel abroad, someone pays loans in foreign currency or pays for rent in dollars. But another problem arose – there is not enough cash in exchange offices and banks. As the residents of Mahiliou told Belsat, only one of 5 exchange offices can find currency. The situation is no better in other cities. In this regard, the National Bank urged financial institutions to restrainedly set exchange rates and inform people about the possibility of non-cash acquisition of foreign currency units. The most important financial institution of the country has not yet taken special measures to curb currency growth.
“The National Bank, having learned from the bitter experience of 2011, began to pursue a more balanced policy, smoothing out only sharp fluctuations. We have not yet observed a containment policy,” said Zayats.
The day before, Lukashenka also noted that the country’s leadership does not intend to restrain the fall in the ruble exchange rate:
“If people want to purchase US dollars, they are welcome to do it. Today, it costs as much as it does. We have a floating exchange rate: the demand is high, which means that the dollar or euro will be more expensive. When the demand is low, it will be cheaper. We are not holding back the ruble with our hands”.
Vadzim Iosub, a financial analyst at Alpari Eurasia, believes that the real reason lies in the modest financial capabilities of the National Bank.
“The gold and foreign exchange reserves of Belarus are now about $ 8 billion. This is not so much. And I do not think that the National Bank will just squander its reserves in order to hold back the rate,” says Vadzim Iosub.
This means that the rise in currency exchange rate will continue. The euro and the dollar have never been so expensive as now.
Caricature: De Lyos
In some exchangers, the dollar is sold for 3 rubles, and the euro – for almost 3.5. And this is not yet the peak of the rise in prices, economists are convinced.
However, not only the wallets of ordinary Belarusians will lose weight, the state budget will also decrease.
“By the end of the year, the deficit of the state budget may reach 6.5%. This is a lot. This means that funding for certain areas and incomes of the population will decrease. There will be a decline in living standards, because inflation and a rise in the exchange rate will eat up the income of the population, ”says economist Leanid Zlotnikau.
Experts say that the current government has driven the Belarusians into a situation in which whatever they do now will still be bad.
“If you have $ 5 thousand on your deposit and you are afraid that they will never be returned to you, and if you could now withdraw them, what will you do with them? To keem them at home is a risk, to transfer it to gold is a risk, to put it in a bank cell? Everyone remembers the story of Belgazprombank, thus, there is also a risk,” notes Alyaksandr Zayats.
“If you trust the banks and leave money there, then there are no guarantees that foreign currency deposits will not be frozen or will not be converted into rubles. On the other hand, if everyone runs to banks at the same time for their deposits, the banking system is guaranteed to fall down and all their deposits will not be given back,” Vadzim Iosub is convinced.
The same double danger applies to all the political and economic prospects of our country: the political crisis causes a fall in the economy and a decrease in the standard of living of Belarusians, and this in turn causes even greater political tension. Independent political scientists and economists agree that there is only one way out of this vicious circle — a change of administration. After all, only this guarantees an inflow of investments to Belarus, obtaining foreign aid and cheap loans for reforms and development of the country.