Expert: Belarus to face another crisis in Spring
Belarusian economist Leonid Zlotnikov believes that Belarus will find itself in a difficult economic situation in spring of 2012, which will lead the country "without any provocation" "to the next economic crisis".
"Belarus has a large outflow of currency, because in recent years we have formed a huge amount of debt. And we need to pay it back in 2012", he said.
"Everybody must pay back - the government, enterprises and banks. Belarus should return $1 billion a month this year. Belarus also has to pay $2 billion to non-residents - foreign investors, expecting profits from their investments", the economist said, reports "Narodnaya Volia".
"As for the Russian ruble as single currency... If our government can’t cope with the economy: rising inflation, printed "empty" money - then there should be another government in the country, or indeed the Russian ruble as the national currency. Shall we stay hungry for the rest of the life? Well, it surely presupposes some loss of economic sovereignty ... But here's an example: Estonia had to changeover to the euro with a groan, but abandoned its currency, as they want to live better ... what about Belarusians, don’t they want to live better?" Leonid Zlotnikov said.
According to him, "we face a choice: either to reform the economy, following the example of Russia, thus introducing a market economy in Belarus, or Belarus will turn into North Korea, where people, like we, build socialism, but stay hungry".
Shlyndikov: Belarus wouldn’t take the Russian ruble as a gift
Meanwhile, ex-Chairman of the Committee on Economic Policy and Reform of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Belarus of the 13th convocation Vasili Shlyndikov believes that "Belarus wouldn’t take the Russian ruble as a gift".
"First, transition into the Russian currency will lead to loss of Belarus’ independence. Second, the transition to the Russian ruble will not help our economy. Have a look at the euro injection into the economy of Greece: it can’t save this country from economic crisis. The Russian ruble, though stronger than the Belarusian ruble, but is not comparable in stability with the very dollar or euro", he said.
Former head of the National Bank Stanislav Bogdankevich agree with him as well. According to him, "only own national currency" is needed to lift the economy of Belarus. The economist believes that there will be no intention to introduce the Russian ruble in Belarus within the next two years. "Belarus doesn’t depend on Russia that much. In addition, the external debt of Belarus in relation to our gross domestic product is not critical", he said.
However, analyst Sergei Chaly believes that the introduction of the Russian ruble will only do harm to Belarus. "In the case of introducing the Russian ruble our country will lose a tool adjusting the economy", said the expert.
Bogdankevich: Russia may provoke a crisis in Belarus
Stanislav Bogdankevich also notes that "Russia could provoke economic crisis in Belarus at any convenient time."
"Belarus is fully dependent on the Russian energy. If they block the gas or raise the price, then it’ll immediately become a problem for Belarus. Besides, Belarus is highly dependent on Russia on trade - we sell 60% to 90% products to Russia. The error of Lukashenko government is unilateral export - only to Russia. Here's our dependence on this relationship", he said.
At the same time Sergei Chaly said that there had already been similar attempts by the Russian leadership. "Remember how slow Russia was to allocate the next tranche of loan to Belarus, openly stating that there’re doubts about the solvency of our country", he stressed.
In November 2011, Vice Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Rumas said there were no negotiations on the introduction of single currency within the Common Economic Space of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.
November 4, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said that he's not yet ready for introduction of single currency within the Common Economic Space. The president does not exclude such a possibility in the future, when equal opportunities for all participants are guaranteed. However, his colleague, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev believes that no national currency (Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan) is suitable for the role of the single currency within the Eurasian Union.
In turn, Russian Ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov says the issue of single currency hasn’t yet been raised by the leadership of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. "But if suddenly Belarus happens to be in a difficult financial and monetary situation again, as it used to be in 2011, then, it may have to think about switching to a common currency with Russia", said the ambassador.
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Russia Alexei Kudrin believes it unprofitable for Russia to pass to a single currency with Belarus in the coming years. According to the expert, this will increase the Russian ruble risks, will seriously weaken it.