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Belarus' 2016 Economic and Social Development Plan

MINSK (BelTA) A package of measures to address the issues of Belarus' social and economic development in 2016 and to ensure macroeconomic balance was adopted by joint Resolution No. 28/2 of the Council of Ministers and the National Bank on 18 January 2016. The document is built in sections and contains 93 points, BelTA learned from the Council of Ministers.

It outlines measures in foreign trade, integration, investment, innovation, industrial, pricing, competition, social, regional and monetary policies. The document also includes measures to promote the development of the domestic market, entrepreneurship, to improve economic governance and enhance the banking system.

“Special attention will be paid to export diversification. The talks on Belarus' accession to the WTO will be continued. Efforts will be made to ease the regulations regarding foreign trade operations and their control,” reads the statement posted on the website of the Belarusian government.

Besides, there are plans to introduce a one-stop shop principle into the management of foreign trade transactions and reduce the number of documents required for international trade deals in 2016. The press service of the Belarusian government added that plans for the future also include adoption of a national program to support and promote Belarus' export in 2016-2020, development of a plan of action to support domestic exporters, and the implementation of the decisions of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council regarding joint promotion of products and services to the markets of third countries.

The National Center for Legal Information arranged the measures into the following groups:

Foreign Trade and Integration Policies

- To adopt the national export promotion program for 2016-2020;

- To develop a plan to support domestic exporters;

- To liberalize the legislation governing foreign trade operations;

- To continue the negotiations on the accession of Belarus to the WTO; to strengthen organizational and human resources capacities for this purpose.

Investment and Innovation Policies

- To implement joint investment projects within the framework of interregional Chinese-Belarusian cooperation to attract at least $100 million per year in direct Chinese investments into each of seven regions;

- To cut budget expenditures (including by optimizing and reducing the network and staff numbers of budget-financed organizations) and reduce the volume of soft loans for low-priority, social and infrastructural projects.

Industrial Policy and Real Economy

- To set key implementation targets for state programs and additional key performance indicators for the executives of the national government bodies, regional authorities and Minsk City Hall;

- To streamline the rules for granting organizations the right to sell goods (works, services) at the prices (tariffs) determined taking into account market conditions;

- To prevent the sale of products not compliant with the requirements of the technical regulations of Belarus and the Eurasian Economic Union;

- To draft a state program on energy saving for 2016-2020 to reduce the GDP energy intensity by at least 0.4% with the GDP growth at 0.3%;

- To cut construction costs by reducing the costs across the full construction cycle, from design to commissioning, by at least 10% from the corresponding period in 2015 in comparable conditions;

- To cut costs of housing and utility services for households by at least 15% as compared to the corresponding period in 2015 in comparable conditions.

Pricing and Antimonopoly Policies

- To introduce cashless subsidies for housing and utility services and to use the ERIP system for the administration of such subsidies;

- To discuss matters of increasing the tariffs on domestic telecommunication and postal services to ensure a total cost recovery in 2016;

- To hold fairs, discount campaigns (clearance sales, loyalty programs and many more) and non-price events (tastings, samplings, promotional games, contests).

Entrepreneurship and Domestic Market Development

- To enhance the small business promotion institute in line with international practices and the corresponding project with the World Bank;

- To develop the single electronic register of administrative procedures;

- To increase the share of domestic goods in retail to 70-75%;

- To build three logistics centers.

Social Policy

- To keep the jobless rate within the socially allowable limits (1.5-2% of the workforce), including through the creation of new jobs;

- To improve the state targeted social assistance system;

- To determine the ratio of the minimal monthly wage and the minimal consumer budget per one member in a family of four at the level of at least 90%, in order to calculate the minimal monthly wage as of 1 January 2016;

- To create equal conditions for state-run and private insurance companies dealing with pension insurance;

- To draft legal acts, in accordance with which heads of public bodies and budget-sponsored organizations will determine the order, terms and size of stimulating payments to workers of budget-sponsored organizations and other subsidized organizations whose employees are paid the same salaries as the workers of budget-sponsored organizations taking into account the industry specifics.

Economic Governance

- To create the institute of insurance consultants and the Chamber of Insurance Consultants on the principles of a self-regulating organization;

- To adopt the State Property Management Concept for the period till 2020;

- To prepare a comprehensive strategy for reorganization and modernization of state-run enterprises;

- To establish an independent anti-monopoly agency;

- To step up efforts to float shares of Belarusian joint-stock companies in foreign stock markets.

Monetary Policy and Banking System

- To conduct a flexible currency exchange policy that will help avoid foreign currency interventions by the National Bank;

- To carry out independent auditing of banks with a view to enhance their sustainability;

- To improve the structure and balance of the deposit market by raising the share of long-term and Belarusian ruble deposits.