Andrea Wiktorin: Belarus should continue reforms

Andrea Wiktorin: Belarus should continue reforms

What are the prospects for Belarus' economic development? Participants of Kastryčnicky Ekanamičny Forum in Minsk discussed the business environment, investment climate and globalization on November 2. The event gathers scientists, experts, representatives of business circles and international organizations. The major issue discussed is how to improve the investment attractiveness of Belarus.

Eight documents on the liberalization of business have already been signed. Another one, on the High-Tech Park, is on its way. 

Belarus is now definitely steering away from its Soviet past, but still a lot of work is to be done. International organizations, the IMF included, demand that structural reforms be held in the Belarusian economy, among which is the reforming of the housing and utilities system.

This means that the state needs to stop subsidizing this sector and people starting to pay 50-100% more than they do now. The people will not support this initiative, especially since real incomes of the population are not growing. The Belarusian authorities understand the necessity of these measures, but want a more gradual approach.

This is one of the reasons why talks on another IMF loan to Belarus were brought to a halt for a while.

Vasily Matyushevsky, First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus, said the country is not seeking IMF money per se. The main reason to continue the dialogue with the IMF is for it to confirm Belarus’ movement in the right direction, which would bolster investors’ confidence.

Among the most serious challenges for the Belarus economy is its debt burden, which the country has to refinance taking out more and more loans.

Some experts welcome the ongoing reforms and encourage Belarus to continue them.

Satu Kahkonen, World Bank Regional Director for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine:
Belarus came to 38th place in the Doing Business ranking. This is a significant achievement. You have improved conditions for the registration of companies, the creation of new enterprises and reduced the load associated with regulatory requirements.

The EU has always helped and supported the negotiation process between Belarus and the IMF.

Andrea Wiktorin, head of the European Union representative office in Belarus:
Belarus should continue reforms. Strengthening the private sector, social welfare, good conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises... All this creates a positive investment climate and helps convince investors to come to your country.

Alexander Zaborovsky, Chief Advisor to the Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus:
In the conditions of a difficult demography, economic growth was provided thanks to the growth of labor productivity. Productivity and efficiency are not just technologies. This comes through both management and the creation of an appropriate environment.