What is to be done to deal with the current crisis in Belarus? To tackle the issue, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka called a meeting on Tuesday.
However, the decision turned out to to have been taken before. The Belarusian leader commented on the government’s proposal to carry out reforms:
“I have been thinking over the proposals of the government for several weeks. I do not think it is possible and necessary to change the course in this situation.”
Alyaksandr Lukashenka explained what the current economic course is based on:
“Given the difficult economic situation the government must enable the so-called mode of manual control of the economy where necessary. It should provide all kinds of help to everyone: enterprises, governors, local authorities and require flawless execution of the decisions taken and also mobilization of efforts and high productivity of work,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes him as saying.
By now, enterprises’ obedience in achieving targets set by the state has led to a drop in GDP, non-payments, overstocked warehouses and and a sharp rise in unemployment.
“Reforms have dangerous ends for Lukashenka. He can neither live nor work under the conditions of a competitive market economy,” says economist Leanid Zaika.
According to the Belarusian president, reforms will be ‘rejected by people’ and ‘destabilize the situation’. Belsat TV asked the residents of Minsk whether it is true.
“Some reforms should be carried out, but we should not radically change our economy,” a young man says.
“Reforms are long overdue. Everyone is moaning: let’s reform!” a passer-by says.
“I think that it should be changed because it will be far worse without changes,” a woman says.
Meanwhile, the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar and the euro against the Belarusian ruble keeps rising. On Tuesday the dollar reached Br 21,251. Over the past year the Belarusian ruble has dropped 13% against the Russian ruble.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s public backtracking on reforms might as well indicate that negotiations between Belarus and foreign lenders have come to a deadlock. In this case, all the gold reserves of the country may go towards paying off the external debt in 2016. Perhaps, the Belarusian authorities will come up with the idea of imposing new taxes, or, for example, further increase the tariffs for housing and communal services.
Stanislau Ivashkevich/MS, Belsat.eu