Updated at 18:07,08-09-2017

Five key economic targets missed in 2015

By Andrey Serada, BelaPAN

Five out of the nine key economic targets were missed in Belarus in 2015, Prime Minister Andrey Kabyakow said at a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Saturday.

The governments growth forecasts for GDP, labor productivity, exports and inflation-adjusted household incomes were not met while the volume of housing construction was also lower than expected.

Last year highlighted Belarus strong dependence on trends in commodity markets, said Mr. Kabyakow.

Belarus industrial output, agricultural production, housing construction volume and retail trade declined in 2015, he said.

He criticized sectoral ministries and state conglomerates for missing many of the government-set targets last year. In particular, he said, the Belarusian State Light Industry Concern did not meet a single performance target.

Only forecasts for inflation, GDP energy intensity, sales profitability in the industrial sector and export surplus were met, said Mr. Kabyakow.

The prime minister welcomed last years export surplus of $205 million in trade in goods and services. This was only a third year when Belarus avoided a foreign trade deficit since it became independent, he stressed.

Belarus current account deficit fell by $2.4 billion, or from 5.8 to 3.1 percent of GDP, in 2015, said Mr. Kabyakow. This is a very good result, he said.

He credited a tight monetary policy with helping keep inflation at 12 percent last year, the lowest level in five years, and also hailed a decrease of nearly 10 percentage points in loan interest rates.

The prime minister acknowledged that the continuing oil price slide and the further weakening of the currencies of major importers of Belarusian-made goods were hitting Belarus economy hard this year.

The situation will likely force Minsk to revise budget expenditures downward, he stressed. In January, he said, housing construction slowed down markedly and so did fixed capital expenditures because of public funding cuts.