17 January 2018, Wednesday, 5:46

Dictator’s personnel hunger


The Belarusian ruler gathers a team of “old men” around himself.

The other day he signed a decree appointing a 70-year old former head of the National Bank Petr Prakapovich a vice-Prime Minister, responsible for the economy and finance.

Belarusian experts are sure that one should hardly expect radical reforms, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports.

A according to a statement by Belarus ruler’s press-service, in his new position Petr Prakapovich will be responsible for reaching the most important indicators of the prognosis for social and economic development, execution of the state budget and modernization of the economy.

Several factors make this appointment sensational. Of course, the main thing is that the population associates the latest devaluation of the national currency with his name. The devaluation made Belarusians three times poorer in a day. We would remind that on 23 May 2011 the National Bank of Belarus announced the devaluation of the official exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble. The Belarusian currency lost 56% of its value in a day. In the black market the devaluation accounted for almost 200%. It was exactly Prakapovich who was the head of the National Bank at the time, and it was him who assured everyone on the eve of the devaluation that it would never happen. The web-site was called after him, which helped citizens to exchange currencies and have an idea of the real value of the Belarusian rouble at the time of foreign currency deficiency, the absence of transactions in the currency exchange market.

Petr Prakapovich then quit his position because of a health condition. However in less than half a year Aliaksandr Lukashenka appointed the former head of the National Bank, who tarnished his image with the devaluation, as his aide. This appointment was perceived as sensational not only because of Prakapovich’s reputation, but also because he was supposed to assist Lukashenka instead of Sergei Tkachev, known for his communist views.

The thing is that Prakapovich was guilty for the devaluation only for a common citizen. In the circles of functionaries he was known as a market-oriented manager and an antipode to communist Tkachev. Referring to an experts’ opinion, the newspaper wrote some time ago about the expectations of changes in the economic policy. What concerns the devaluation, than economic experts tend to see a switchman in him, since it was not the monetary policy which was the cause of the devaluation, but the economic and presidential ambitions of Lukashenka’s, who pumped the economy with unsecured money.

Experts treated Prakapovich skeptically also for the reason that while a builder by education he was the head of the National Bank for 13 years.

According to the National Statistics Committee, the Belarusian economy only grew 1.5% last year. At the same time, independent experts consider the figure to be too optimistic. They tend to say that the economic system, created by Lukashenka, built on administrative and command methods, has exhausted its potential and it will be hardly possible to squeeze anything else out of it without changes.

The word stagnation is more and more often used as applied to describing the situation in the country. However one should hardly expect any radical reforms, which would threaten Lukashenka’s sole power. That is why only loyal and tested personnel is able to carry out mild reforms, the people who know the limits.