Government’s adjustments to 2014 forecast may not be approved
On October 22nd socio -economic development forecast for 2014 was published.
International trade situation has led up to adjustments in the 2014 Belarus’ development forecast plan. Major indicators have been substantially lowered. However the president is unlikely to approve this realistic forecast and may order to set more ambitious goals for 2014. This would recreate the 2013 situation, when GDP growth forecast will not have been implemented.
Initially, the socio-economic development plan for 2014 assumed GDP growth at 5.7%. Inflation was projected at 11%. It was projected that the external demand for Belarusian goods would trigger economic growth up to 3.6% of GDP growth. However, due to changes in potash fertilizers exports and in supply of crude oil volumes, external economic factors needed to be readjusted. The latest version of the socio-economic development plan for 2014 assumes export of potash fertilizers at 5 million tons, against 7 million tons planned initially. Estimated volumes of oil supplies to Belarus were also adjusted downward.
Also, the most recent version assumes only 2.4 % GDP growth and higher inflation rate – 14.5 %. The average USD/BYR exchange rate has been revised upward to about BYR 9800 per USD. Growth of exports of goods and services has been decreased to 7.2 % (11.7% in 2013). Population’s real wage growth has been reduced from 6.0% to 4.0 % in 2014.
The latest version of the socio-economic development forecast for 2014 is feasible, but will not be approved. 2014 is the pre-election year, which means the country’s leaders need to demonstrate success of the Belarusian managerial and economic models against the background of the world crisis and the crisis in other countries. The updated plan is not ambitious and does not require pushing off the limits. However the president will almost certainly demand to readjust parameters upwards. The weak diversification of exports and the limited range of export goods, including distorted macroeconomic indicators restrict the economic growth at 1-2%. If indicators are adjusted upward, the economy will unbalance and a situation similar to 2011 might occur.
The Belarusian economy has a small chance not to be hit by the devaluation, which requires the political will to recognize the incapability of the economy to significant progress. The authorities have consistently denied the failures of the Belarus’ economic model, which may result in a new devaluation loop.
During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.