Shadow Economy, Competitiveness, Relations with the EU and Russia - Digest Of Belarusian Analytics

British Ambassador Brian Bucknell. Source: eurobelarus.info

The new report on human rights in Belarus - the Human Rights Centre Viasna has released its monthly monitoring.

Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) presented four scenarios of development of relations between the EU, Russia and their common neighbours. Where is the place for Belarus?

The shadow economy in Belarus – the new research by BISS studies the public perception of the shadow economy and assesses the involvement of Belarusians in it.

Public Lectures and Conferences

Bruce Bucknell: Belarusian language may be the solution to the “Russian World” problem in Belarus – The British Ambassador delivered a public speech on the national identity within the frames of the Flying University project Urbi et Orbi. The lecture was held on 20 November and attracted about two hundred people. The video version is available

Four Scenarios of Development of Relations Between the EU and Russia: Where is the Place for Belarus? – On 25 November in Minsk, Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) presented four scenarios of development of relations between the EU, Russia and their common neighbours. The scenarios are built on the metaphor of the house. The first scenario describes the situation of overlapping interests but different values and is presented in the form of a block of flats. The second one contains common interests and values and, accordingly, is presented as a common house for a large family.

Criticising the State Isn’t Enough; We should Change the Discourse of Situation Perception – The real resistance is the production of one’s own civilization product, not just a criticism of the authorities on the part of the regime fighters, who are frozen in time. This is one of the findings of the conference “Political techniques in modern authoritarian regimes as a challenge to transformation” that took place on 27 November in Minsk. The organisers are the Centre for European Transformation with the support of the International Consortium EuroBelarus, and Heinrich Boell Foundation.​

Letter From Minsk – Strategic Europe continues the second phase of its Capitals Series exploring how EU foreign policy is viewed by six countries in Europe’s Eastern neighbourhood. They have asked the contributors from each capital to give a candid assessment of the EU’s policies toward their country, with a ranking on a scale from “miserable” to “excellent.” Andrei Yahorau, the director of the Centre for European Transformation, a Belarusian independent think tank, speaks on behalf of Belarus.

Research and Monitoring

Human Rights Situation in Belarus: November 2015 – The Human Rights Centre Viasna has released its monthly monitoring on human rights situation in the country. In particular, November was marked by a continuation of the policy of ‘soft practises' observed earlier since August. During November, there were no new politically motivated cases, while a series of street protests took place without the intervention of law enforcement and without arrests of their organisers and participants.

The Shadow Economy in Belarus in a Regional Perspective – The BISS new research studies the public perception of the shadow economy and assesses the involvement of citizens in shady activities. The representative opinion poll conducted in May-June 2015 at the same time in Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, and Sweden. One of the findings shows that shadow employment in Belarus is the highest in comparison with other countries of the research, and can be estimated at 33% of GDP. The research was presented in the Amplituda TUT.by program.

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI): Dynamics of the Belarus’ Position – CASE Belarus presents the study using a unique micro-data from the 2012 poll jointly run by the Ministry of Economy of Belarus and CASE Belarus. Belarus is not on the GCI list of the World Economic Forum so far. The project determines the potential place of Belarus in the GCI Report and provides recommendations for strengthening the competitiveness of the economy of Belarus based on the break-down of the potential score.

Reforms Review

New licencing regulations in Belarus. Starting from 1 March 2016, the incense will be issued in Belarus in perpetuity. The new presidential decree also reduces a scope of paperwork and data submitted to obtain a incense.

Minsk considering borrowing $3bn from IMF for ten years. Minsk is considering the possibility of getting a $3 billion loan of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with a 2.28% interest rate for ten years. Belarus president Alexander Lukashenka said, "no one, including the Russians, has given us loans under such interest rate". Belarus is interested in the IMF loan, taking into account the national interests, Lukashenka stressed.

Monitoring of economic transformation. Since January 2016, IPM Research Centre in cooperation with TUT.BY and IPM Business School launches publication under the KEF new regular newsletter - "Monitoring of the Belarusian economic transformation and business confidence." The structure is based on the road map of reforms presented by the First Deputy Economy Minister of Belarus Alexander Zaborovsky at the recent KEF conference "Economy of Belarus: At a Tipping Point". According to the KEF newsletter

Lukashenka: It is necessary to move a little and strain. On 7 December at a meeting on the budget and monetary policy for 2016, president Alexander Lukashenka warned the government of the experiments in the economy. Lukashenka is confident that the Belarusian economy is absolutely competitive in terms of price and quality.

Belarus-EU visa facilitation agreement ready for signing. This statement was made by Gunnar Wiegand, Deputy Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia of the European External Action Service (EEAS) during a press conference under the EU official visit to Minsk on 9-10 December. The official also reported that EU set to double financial assistance to Belarus next year, allocating its funds for programmes aimed at building the country’s competitive capacity and creating new opportunities for economic and regional development.

Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials provided by Pact. This digest attempts to give a richer picture of the recent political and civil society events in Belarus. It often goes beyond the hot stories already available in English-language media.

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