Alaсhnovič and Chaly told whether it’s possible to wait out the economic crisis

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's Youtube-channel
5 mins

На русском языке: Алехнович и Чалый рассказали, удастся ли «пересидеть» экономический кризис
На беларускай мове: Аляхновіч і Чалы распавялі, ці атрымаецца «пераседзець» эканамічны крызіс

Crises in Belarus are not uncommon. Over the past 11 years, this is the fourth in a row. What has changed and why will the authorities not be able to wait it out once again? Yesterday, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya held an online stream with economists Aleś Alaсhnovič and Siarhei Chaly. The most important words of the experts are summarized below.

Judging by the level of wages and the exchange rate, the Belarusian economy is not particularly shaken. How does the crisis affect the financial well-being of ordinary Belarusians?

There is a paradoxical situation when outwardly favorable figures that have developed due to a favorable external economic situation mask an absolutely abnormal situation inside,– Siarhei Chaly believes. –Prices are rising, consumer spending is growing, the problem with external debt has not gone away, funds need to be found somewhere. It is necessary to remove them from the economy, which further suppresses economic activity within the country.

According to Aleś Alaсhnovič, Belarusians have already managed to feel the crisis phenomena, and this is obvious from their economic behavior.

Prices rise faster and faster where they are regulated by the state, – confirms Aleś Alaсhnovič. – If prices rose by 1.5%, then wages decreased by 3.5% in 2 months. Investments of IKEA, Gazprom, Slavkali have been frozen, there are no investments — there are no jobs, there are no earnings for people. People do not trust the Belarusian currency system — they take money out of bank deposits. Over the past 14 months, Belarusians have made $2 billion in foreign currency deposits. This is 30% of all deposits.

Unlike previous crises, this crisis is primarily political. The economy suffers as a result of the political decisions of the country’s leadership.

– In such an atmosphere, business does not want to invest, and people are afraid to spend money on something other than essential goods, – says Aleś Alaсhnovič.

According to Siarhei Chaly, unlike the previous ones, the way out of this crisis is impossible without a change of authority.

Something has changed in people, they do not trust the authority and do not accept it. The authorities are doing everything to split society into ours and theirs. It is impossible to build economy, modern medicine, IT, education in such an atmosphere. This crisis will not be resolved until its cause is resolved: the lack of legibility of the authorities. 

The authorities are already trying to get out of the crisis by raising taxes for the population, but according to Sergey Chaly, this is a ‘cosmetic step’:

The benefits of these measures in terms of increasing budget revenues are significantly less than the negative consequences. Officials understand that tax increases will cause social tension, and the budget will collect pennies, but they have to do it for decorative reasons — to show that they are doing something. You can’t find money out of thin air. It is necessary to rob someone, and this will return Belarus to the situation of the acute currency crisis of 2011 at best, at worst – to the economic situation of the 90s, when such behavior of the state was normal.

Yesterday, Lukashenka and Putin signed a decree on the implementation of the Union State treaty. This has excited many Belarusians – what if integration in the near future really goes in full swing? According to Siarhei Chaly, almost all integration documents signatures have been ritual since 2005.

The Union State was buried back in 2005, when the parties stumbled upon issues on which it is impossible to agree. In the winter of 2006, the first gas war began. This topic accidentally returned to the political and economic discourse of late 2018. It was Putin’s improvisation, and nothing new has been invented since then. As in 2005 they faced several fundamental issues, they have not yet been resolved. There is no progress, there is no desire to unite the budget, central banks. Everything that is signed now is just ritual actions.

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