Belarus has been showing signs of its gradual economic recovery, Belarus Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov said at the expanded-participation meeting of the Council of Ministers on 15 November.
“The statistics testify to a gradual economic growth. The situation in agriculture has improved, with the sector posting a 3.8% growth over the last year. Industry has been making headway, evenly approaching the level of the previous year – 98.5%. Bellegprom, Industry Ministry, Belgospishcheprom and Healthcare Ministry (pharmaceutical industry) have already exceeded the last year’s level by 0.8-6.8%. The processing industry is back on track in eight out of its 13 subsections,” Andrei Kobyakov noted.
The profitability of sales went up to 7.4%. The inflation rate stayed within the forecast, making 9.2% in January-October 2016. The foreign trade in goods and services is balanced. “In January-September 2016 the country registered a trade surplus of $391 million, or 1.1% of GDP, as against the projected 0.5% at the start of the year,” he stressed.
According to Andrei Kobyakov, the currency market has leveled off as well. In January-October 2016 net sales of foreign currency on the domestic market totaled $1.6 billion, including $325 million in October.
The Premier also took note of the recent improvements on the credit and deposit market. “In January-October 2016 fixed household deposits in the national currency ramped up by Br203 million, including Br78 million in October though the rates on such deposits are reducing,” Andrei Kobyakov said.
Andrei Kobyakov told, that the Belarusian government has achieved macroeconomic stabilization. “The main result is that we managed to ensure the current macroeconomic stabilization. Taking into account the external shocks, the government and the National Bank have had to apply stringent measures on fiscal consolidation and balance of payments never using the printing machine,” Andrei Kobyakov said.
In his words, this resulted in reduced directed lending, tougher banks’ requirements to investment projects. “Such measures have restrained the economic growth, affected investment activities and people’s incomes. Although we are down quantitatively, we have been making quality macroeconomic progress,” Andrei Kobyakov added.
According to him, in January-October 2016 Belarus’ gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by 2.8% in comparison with the same period of last year. The Prime Minister said: “Our GDP in January-October lags behind the relevant period of last year by 2.8%. Civil engineering, retail, and processing industry are still the primary factors that influence the overall result.”
Andrei Kobyakov stated that in January-September 2015 none of the regions managed to secure last year’s gross regional product results. “Brest Oblast (98.8%) and Grodno Oblast (97.9%) performed slightly better than others while Vitebsk Oblast (94.2%) did worst of all. And the gross added value in this oblast dropped across the board without an exception. On top of that I can also mention permanent problems with paying salaries on time in Vitebsk Oblast companies and organizations,” said Andrei Kobyakov.
According to the Prime Minister, Belarus’ export of merchandise and services shrank by 12.5% in January-September while export prices on the global market went down by 16%. “In natural terms Belarus’ merchandise export rose by 0.4%. Belarus also increased the export of investment goods and consumer non-foods in cost terms by 9.8% and 15.7% respectively,” stated the Belarusian head of government.
Andrei Kobyakov remarked that Belarus increased the export of machines and equipment, transport vehicles, and textile goods. “Good merchandise export figures were secured by the Architecture and Construction Ministry, the light industry concern Bellegprom, the administrations of Grodno Oblast and Mogilev Oblast. The export of services by organizations of the Healthcare Ministry, the city of Minsk, and the Brest Oblast administration was way above the target,” said Andrei Kobyakov.
The Prime Minister also pointed out that without taking into account oil, oil products, and potash the rest of the national economy improved the balance of foreign trade in goods and services by $1.03 billion in January-September 2016 in comparison with the same period of last year. In his words, continued trends on the domestic currency market help keep the country’s foreign trade balanced.
Andrei Kobyakov stated that in October 2016 the ratio of the stock in storage against the average monthly output rose by 3.7 percentage points. “While the figure rose, it is still absolutely comfortable for the economy. The figure was lower than last year. The stock in storage was increased primarily by enterprises of the Belarusian state food industry concern Belgospishcheprom as they stocked up on sugar due to seasonal factors. The stock in storage decreased in all the other ministries and concerns,” noted the Belarusian head of government.
Andrei Kobyakov reminded that presidential decree No. 78 requires reducing the prime cost of products. He said that the goal was not achieved in January-September 2016. “The prime cost of sold products rose by 10.5% in the nine-month period,” he said.
As of 1 October 2016 the number of loss-making companies was 13% up from 1 October 2015. However, their net loss was 40% lower while net loss per company was nearly halved and stood at Br1 million against Br1.8 million in 2015. On the whole, Belarusian companies secured a net profit as high as Br3.7 billion, 18% up from 1 October 2015, summed up Andrei Kobyakov.