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PM: Situation in Belarus’ economy manageable in Q1 despite external shocks


The situation in the economy in the first quarter of 2020 was manageable, despite external shocks, Belarus Prime Minister Sergei Rumas said at a meeting of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers to examine the country’s social and economic performance in the first quarter, BelTA has learned.

“In the first quarter, the economy was affected by a number of foreign economic shocks. The tax maneuver and the absence of oil supplies agreements with Russia significantly complicated the work of the petrochemical and transport industries. The closure of the borders by the neighbors in the wake of the pandemic had an impact primarily on the service sector. Lower prices in commodity markets, devaluation of the Russian ruble affected the the engineering industry. Yet, the situation in the economy in January-March was manageable,” Sergei Rumas said.

In Q1 Belarus’ GDP decreased by 0.3%. That was 1 percentage point below the target. “We managed to keep the GDP at last year’s level thanks to the information and communication sector, the construction industry and agriculture. We need to keep these points of value-added growth throughout 2020. The Agriculture and Food Ministry and the Architecture and Construction Ministry should maintain the positive trends and build on them,” the prime minister instructed.

As for the GRP growth rate, four regions showed progress. These were Minsk, Brest Oblast, Grodno Oblast and Mogilev Oblast. GRP decreased in Vitebsk Oblast, Gomel Oblast and Minsk Oblast if compared to the same period last year.

“Today the regions need to clearly understand what reserves and growth points they will use to meet their social and economic targets in 2020. The task to keep the economy going was set by the head of state at the meeting on 23 April,” Sergei Rumas said.

The Q1 2020 budget revenues, the prime minister said, were short of about $350 million due to the deteriorated operation of the oil refineries, and a decline in the volume and prices in the exports of potash fertilizers.

“All social obligations as well as internal and external debt obligations were honored on time and in full. Judging by the ongoing changes in the global market, this year will be difficult in terms of budget capacity to finance capital expenditures. I would like to ask the finance minister to report on the the budget formation and the proposal for its consolidation,” said Sergei Rumas.