The budget is bursting at the seams.
The U.S. has resumed sanctions against nine Belarusian companies. A number of experts say that this time the restrictive measures are much more serious. Charter97.org has asked Viktar Harbachou, entrepreneur and blogger from Barysau, to comment on the situation:
- The enterprises of Belnautakhim are trying to steer clear, to strike a deal with someone, but I think this is the most tangible blow to the regime in its entire existence. When it comes to the country's energy security - oil, gas, petrol - everything is much more serious, it's not like joking and forgetting about it. I believe that sanctions will have some consequences if there is no reaction from the authorities to U.S. demands, such as the release of political prisoners, fair elections and so on.
If the authorities persist with the same attitude toward the population, the sanctions will turn theory into substance, and this will reflect on our pockets and reveal its true colors when the money comes to an end.
- Russian suppliers may refuse to supply oil to Belarus. In your opinion, is it possible that there will be some kind of "domino effect" caused by U.S. sanctions and serious consequences for the regime?
- Yes, of course, although we have to see a real refusal. As far as I know, this decision has not been made yet, but I think they are not fools there. Their billionaires in the Kremlin are counting their money and they know very well what it is likely to incur.
At the moment, the reaction of the Russian authorities to us is "no, guys, we'll stay on the safe side and see," but they know that because of the "domino effect," sanctions may also affect Russian companies. They don't need it; their situation is no better than ours. Petrol and food prices are going up. It was shown recently that in the last quarter, the number of Belarusian goods - shrimp, cheese, and so on - decreased several times, because we have restrictions with European countries.
Russia lets our government ride, saying, "you revolve there for a while, and we'll see whether the sanctions work or not". If the sanctions are "not serious," then in June, maybe, the supply will be restored, but if they are, then Russia will refuse and it will hit us very hard. In the worst case, they will say that Belarus must join Russia, become the 86th region, then there will be oil and gas, sanctions will not be a problem, so to say, let's die together in the trenches. Lukashenka used to say: "We will die in trenches, all together".
The "domino effect" will definitely happen, it's as clear as day. Starting with energy security and ending with food. We're going to see it all.
- The companies will be banned from making settlements in US dollars. How big of a blow is that?
- They're burying themselves. According to official figures, 85% of the world's settlements between all nations are made in U.S. dollars. What are we supposed to pay with? With gold, which is becoming scarce? With our ruble, which in principle is not backed up by anything? With diamonds or groceries? I guess that this will really affect our enterprises, if the payments are made with God knows what.
The authorities need foreign currency; they understand what will happen in a month, two or three. Perhaps they will start printing paper in Drazdy and giving it out against the Belarusian ruble exchange rate instead of the hard currency. Now there is a search for hard currency in every corner.
- There's more and more information in the network that the regime is planning to lay off state employees. What is the reason?
- Money is never too much, it can always come to an end, perhaps there is already not enough of it today. The economic situation is pressing, so there are wage cuts and layoffs.
Today the budget is bursting at the seams, so they are mopping up everyone - teachers, doctors and other state employees, so to speak, throwing ballast off the ship. So far it is the middle ranking, but soon they will reach the top one. This suggests that the rats are beginning to devour each other in the jar. They have trampled the people, they have torn down the flags, and now what to do, so let's deal with near sight, with those who have been sitting in the kitchen silently. Now they will start to deal with the officials as well.
There will definitely be layoffs, both in the private sector and in the state one. Recently, I found out that four employees of the Barysau plastics factory were offered to leave voluntarily because the production is standing idle and they don't need them.
The authorities are laying off the people, the factories are producing to stock, and the power block stays the same. The salaries of the laid-off people are taken and subsequently put into the pockets of officials, the KGB, the Interior Ministry and so on. All of this will come out in the fall, especially if he holds out until then. Let's see then what the crops and the harvest will be, and the cost of petroleum products. They have already raised the petrol price 12 times, let it be for a kopeck each time, but it all hits the enterprises, food and housing and utilities sector.