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Press Release from Embassy of Belarus : 27 May 2020

May 26, 2020

 

Belarus registers 38,059 coronavirus cases, 208 deaths as of May 26, 2020

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 38,059 confirmed coronavirus cases as of May 26, 2020, 208 people died, the Health Ministry of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.

15,086 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals.

Yesterday, the ministry reported 37,144 registered coronavirus cases and 204 deaths in Belarus.

The Health Ministry says over 473,000 tests for the coronavirus infection have been conducted in Belarus as of May 26. 

100 specialists at Belarus’ NPP infected with COVID-19 – Rosatom

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Nearly 100 Belarusian and Russian specialists involved in the works at the Belarusian nuclear power plant (Astravyets District, Grodno Oblast) are infected with COVID-19, Alexei Likhachev, CEO of the Russian Rosatom state corporation said on May 26.

“Around 100 tests for the coronavirus came back positive. Not only our employees, but also representatives of the Belarusian customer are infected,” Likhachev said.

“In the coming weeks, we plan to obtain a license and get to the physical start-up. Of course, we are committed to ensure safety of personnel,” he said.

Belarus’ first nuclear power plant in Ostrovets (a town in the Grodno Region also referred to as Astravyets) will have two units with a combined capacity of up to 2,400 megawatts, which are slated to be launched in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The Belarusian nuclear station’s design stems from the AES-2006 design developed by the St Petersburg-based institute Atomenergoproject, which is also the general contractor of the Belarusian project.

Belarus to procure anti-COVID means by tender as part of World Bank’s support package – Kremer

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Belarus will procure anti-COVID means as part of World Bank’s support package on a competitive basis, World Bank Country Manager for Belarus Alex Kremer said during the online presentation of the WB economic review on May 26.

As reported, the WB approved on May 22, 2020 the allocation of €90 million in a financial support package to help Belarus take timely and effective measures of response to the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening the national health system.

“The World Bank follows very strict procurement procedures, making sure that all the money is spent properly in accordance with the project. Purchases are carried out on a competitive basis to ensure that they are at the lowest price, and high quality products are purchased. Purchases will be made by the UN on behalf of the Belarusian government,” Kremer said.

The procurement procedure will be checked by international auditors to monitor the spending of funds, Kremer said.

“A part of the funds will be used to purchase medical equipment for treatment in complex coronavirus cases, medicines, antibiotics, lung ventilators, and personal protective gears for health workers. A part of the funds will be allocated to stimulate social distancing and prevent the spread of the infection. We believe that prevention through personal hygiene is as important as treatment,” he said.

Belarus became member of the World Bank in 1992. Belarus-WB cooperation is currently based on the WB Group Partnership Strategy for 2018-2022 adopted in 2018. According to the Ministry of Economy of Belarus, the WB invested over $1.7 billion in the economy of Belarus in 1992-2019. The current investment portfolio of the World Bank in Belarus includes nine projects totalling $942.71 million. End

World Bank forecasts 4% decrease in Belarus’ GDP in 2020

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. The World Bank (WB) predicts a decrease in Belarus’ gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 by 4% to the level of 2019 and a subsequent increase by 1% in 2021, World Bank’s economist Marina Sidorenko said during the online presentation of the WB economic review on May 26.

“We expect that the GDP of Belarus will decrease in 2020 by 4%. There will be a very moderate economic recovery after 2020. This forecast is made in very volatile conditions, and it should be considered as one of many development scenarios. We monitor the situation and make forecasts more than twice a year, but as the data on the main sales markets become available, we revise the forecast for Belarus,” Sidorenko said.

She said that Belarus’ this year’s budget revenues will be affected by a decrease in revenues of the oil refining sector and export of oil products, which accounted for 2.3% of GDP last year. A decrease in income tax revenues is also expected.

According to the WB forecast, inflation in Belarus may reach 11.3% in 2020, 7% in 2021 and 6.3% in 2022.

Sidorenko called this an optimistic forecast, which implies a certain restoration of economic growth in the European Union and Russia in the fourth quarter of 2020.

“If the pandemic situation worsens or is not resolved promptly, then it [the forecast] may be downgraded. Also, if the situation with foreign trade partners worsens, this may also create risks of a downgrade,” Sidorenko said.

As reported, the International Monetary Fund predicts a 6% decrease in Belarus’ GDP in 2020 and 3.5% growth in 2021; the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development – 5% and 3.5%, respectively.

Belarus became member of the World Bank in 1992. Belarus-WB cooperation is currently based on the WB Group Partnership Strategy for 2018-2022 adopted in 2018. According to the Ministry of Economy of Belarus, the WB invested over $1.7 billion in the economy of Belarus in 1992-2019. The current investment portfolio of the World Bank in Belarus includes nine projects totalling $942.71 million. End

Belarus needs fiscal reform to ensure budget stability – World Bank

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. In the medium term, Belarus needs to carry out fiscal reform to ensure budget stability. This was reported by Marina Sidorenko, World Bank’s economist Marina Sidorenko said during the online presentation of the WB economic review on May 26.

“Although measures to respond to the coronavirus pandemic remain relevant, we need to talk about a medium-term response and taking measures after the pandemic. In the medium term, we consider it necessary for Belarus to carry out fiscal reform to ensure stability of the budget. It may include proportionalizing and increasing the effectiveness of expenditure in key areas, reducing support for loss-making state-owned enterprises, and reducing tax benefits,” Sidorenko said.

The specified medium-term plan of fiscal reforms would help increase investors’ confidence, reduce the cost of borrowing and increase access to finance.

“Timely anti-crisis measures are needed both in the short term in 2020 and in the medium term,” said Sidorenko.

Belarus became member of the World Bank in 1992. Belarus-WB cooperation is currently based on the WB Group Partnership Strategy for 2018-2022 adopted in 2018. According to the Ministry of Economy of Belarus, the WB invested over $1.7 billion in the economy of Belarus in 1992-2019. The current investment portfolio of the World Bank in Belarus includes nine projects totalling $942.71 million. End

World Bank considering Belarus’ request for $300m in support for SMEs – Kremer

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. The World Bank (WB) is considering the application filed by the government of Belarus for the allocation of $300 million to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country, World Bank Country Manager for Belarus Alex Kremer said during the online presentation of the WB economic review on May 26.

As reported, the WB approved on May 22, 2020 the allocation of €90 million in a financial support package to help Belarus take timely and effective measures of response to the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening the national health system.

Kremer said earlier that the WB links social support programs with compliance with World Health Organization’s recommendations on strengthening legislative measures of social distancing, which, in particular, include the postponement of mass events and reduction in physical presence at workplaces and educational institutions, and the sooner they are taken, the smaller will be the long-term impact of the pandemic and losses of the economy.

As reported, the Belarusian government is also negotiating with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development the allocation of up to $1 billion to support the real sector, including SMEs, through the Belarusian state-owned Belarusbank OJSC, Belagroprombank OJSC, Belinvestbank OJSC and Bank Dabrabyt OJSC.

Belarus became member of the World Bank in 1992. Belarus-WB cooperation is currently based on the WB Group Partnership Strategy for 2018-2022 adopted in 2018. According to the Ministry of Economy of Belarus, the WB invested over $1.7 billion in the economy of Belarus in 1992-2019. The current investment portfolio of the World Bank in Belarus includes nine projects totalling $942.71 million. End

Belarus to tighten consumer market price and supply monitoring – Lukashenko

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Belarusian authorities will tighten the monitoring of prices and supply in the consumer market in the current epidemiological situation, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said on May 26 at the meeting on the situation on the domestic consumer market, the presidential press office reports.

Lukashenko assessed the situation in trade as “tolerable” and instructed government agencies, primarily the Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade (MART), to respond promptly to all cases of unjustified price increases. “I think that today, the situation sometimes dictates the need to intervene in the processes that are taking place in the domestic consumer market,” he said.

“There is no need to argue that the market will regulate everything itself. We have worked a lot there, and we understand that the market does not always regulate itself. The situation has changed. The countries that are very advanced in market relations quickly shut their borders. Russia has even banned the import of fuel into its domestic market,” Lukashenko said.

Minister of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade Vladimir Koltovich said the situation with commodity supply and prices in the domestic consumer market was “manageable, predictable and stable.” “We have no shortage and no excitement,” he said.

As reported, Trade Ministry’s resolution No.30 ‘On the Regulation of Prices of Socially Important Commodities’ of April 15, 2020 and resolution No.36 of May 7, 2020 listed 26 socially important goods, the prices of which are regulated by the state since April 2020 for a period of 90 days. The marginal rate of return for determining the amount of profit to be included in selling prices for manufacturers and importers of such goods is limited to 10%.

The maximum wholesale and trade markups for socially important goods were set at 15-30% depending on the commodity item and regardless of the number of participants in the sale chains. In particular, the markup for milk and dairy products was set at 15%, bread and bakery products, sausages, canned meat – 20%, vegetables – 30%, fresh apples – 30%, chicken eggs – 25%, butter – 20%. End

Belarus imposes moratorium on rising prices for education, transportation and telecom services – Trade Ministry

 

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Belarus has imposed a temporary moratorium on raising prices for education, transportation and telecommunication services, Minister of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade Vladimir Koltovich told reporters after the presidential meeting on the situation on the consumer market held on May 26.

“So far, we have decided to suspend increases in the planned tariffs for education (together with the Ministry of Education), for transport and communications,” BelTA state newswire quotes Koltovich as saying.

MART will look into this matter again after June 2020. “If we enter the planned inflation trend [up to 5% year on year], and the situation remains normal, then we may increase the tariffs that were planned to increase,” said Koltovich.

As reported, according to official data, prices of education services (including preschool) rose in January-April 2020 by 13.5% year on year, by 16.7% year on year in April 2020, 0.6% from March 2020 and 6.3% from December 2019.

Prices of telecommunication services increased in January-April 2020 by 5.2% year on year, by 5.2% year on year in April 2020, by 0.1% from March 2020 and 0.7% from December 2019.

Prices of passenger transport services increased in January-April 2020 by 9% yoy, by 12.8% yoy in April 2020, decreased by 2.5% from March 2020 and grew by 8% against December 2019. End

Belarus’ public sector employees to be paid at least minimum wage in downtime – draft ordinance

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Belarus’ public sector employees to be paid at least the minimum wage and allowances in case of downtime or involuntary part-time employment, as per presidential draft ordinance on salaries in the public sector, Minister of Finance of Belarus Maxim Yermolovich told reporters on May 26.

As reported, the current minimum wage in Belarus was set on January 1, 2020 in the amount of Br375 ($156.3 at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus).

“Allowances will be paid from the national budget. They will only amount to the difference between what is paid by the organization and the minimum wage,” BelTA state newswire quotes Yermolovich as saying.

“We must save jobs and support people engaged in the provision of paid services. Measures also must be taken to create sources for covering these expenses,” Yermolovich said.

Budget managers at the republican and local levels will be given the right to make changes to budget estimates and to take on part of the costs that should have been paid from extra-budgetary revenues of organizations.

According to Yermolovich, most organizations, including local, do not need extra funds from the budget. Costs will be redistributed. End

Belstat: Real disposable households’ incomes up 7.1% in Jan-Mar 2020

 

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Real disposable incomes of households [adjusted for inflation, minus taxes and duties] grew by 7.1% on the year in January-March 2020, Belarus’ National Statistics Committee (Belstat) said in a press release.

According to the report, individual incomes rose by 12.3% year on year to 21,445 billion Belarusian rubles (Br), which is equivalent to $8.937 billion at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus (NBB).

Incomes per capita amounted to Br760.2 ($316.8) in Jan-Mar 2020, up 13.1% year on year.

Wages account for 63.8% of individual incomes in Jan-Mar 2020 (63.6% in Jan-Mar 2019).

Social transfers (pensions, allowances and study grants) accounted for 23.8% (24.1%); incomes from entrepreneurial activities and other income-gaining activities for 7.5% (7.8%); incomes from property (yield on deposits and dividends) – 2.3% (2.3%); other incomes – 2.6% (2.2%).

As previously reported, Belarusians’ real disposable incomes grew 6% on the year in 2019 after an 8% increase in 2018 and a 2.4% in 2017. End (Br2.3995/$1)

Belarus defines requirements for registration and use of foreign gratuitous aid – decree

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Presidential decree No.3 ‘On Foreign Gratuitous Aid’ of May 25, 2020 sets the basic requirements for registration, taxation and utilization of foreign gratuitous aid, the presidential press office reports.

The decree specifies the purposes of the tax-free utilization foreign gratuitous assistance (commodities, works and services) purchased (performed, rendered) in the country at the expense of such assistance, in particular, medical and social assistance, library and museum affairs, provision of sports equipment, and other socially significant goals.

The possibility of using foreign aid for other purposes will be determined by a special interdepartmental commission, which will also decide on tax benefits.

Any natural persons (recipients of foreign gratuitous aid) may apply for. If exemption from taxes, fees and duties is denied, legal entities and individual entrepreneurs will be charged for registration with the Humanitarian Affairs Department of the Presidential Property Management Directorate at the rate of 0.5% of the amount (cost) of such aid.

All technicalities related to the reception of aid, its registration and accounting will be regulated by the government together with the Presidential Property Management Directorate, the National Bank and other stakeholders at the by-law level.

Decree No.3 deems presidential decree No.5 ‘On Foreign Gratuitous Aid’ of August 31, 2015 to have lost force and will enter into force three months after its official publication. End

Average wage in Belarus down 1.6% in Apr 2020 to Br1,193.8

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. The average nominal accrued wage in Belarus decreased in April 2020 by 1.6% month on month to Br1,193.8 ($497.5 at the official rate of the National Bank of Belarus), by 5% year on year, the National Statistical Committee of Belarus (Belstat) reports.

Minsk led with Br1,720.4 ($717), down 4.5% month on month.

The average wage in the Minsk Oblast in April 2020 stood at Br1,159.8 ($483.4), down 2.14% month on month; Gomel Oblast – Br1,051.5 (up 0.8%, $438.2); Mogilev Oblast – 968 Belarusian rubles (minus 0.3%, $403.4), Vitebsk Oblast – Br1,027.7 (up 3.8%, $428.3), Brest Oblast – Br1,009 (down 1.05%, $420.5), Grodno Oblast – Br1,020.6 (up 0.2%, $425.3).

The industrial sector reported Br1,210 (down 3% month on month, $504.3); construction –Br1,311.9 (up 0.2%, $546.7); agriculture, forestry and fishery – Br884.3 (up 2.4%, $368.5); retail trade – Br971.3 (down 1.5%, $404.8); education – Br828.1 (down 2%, $345.1); healthcare – Br1,056.9 (up 11.6%, $440.5).

The average nominal salary in the IT sector stood at Br4,965.3 (down 22.6% month on month, $2,069); financial services – Br2,017.7 (up 2.3%, $840.9). End (Br2.3995/$1)

Belarus reports 13.3% increase in tax and duty arrears in Jan-Mar 2020 to Br124.9m

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Belarus reports a 13.3% increase in business entities’ arrears of payments to the state budget in January-March 2020 to Br124.9 million as of April 1, 2020 ($52.052 at the rate of the National Bank Belarus), the National Statistics Committee of Belarus (Belstat) reports.

Arrears of current payments amounted to Br41.5 million as of April 1, 2020 ($17.295 million), down 43.4% in the first quarter of 2020; arrears on inspections – Br33.3 million ($13.877 million), up 22%.

Arrears of VAT accounted for 49.3% of the total, standing at Br61.5 million ($25.63 million) as of April 1, 2020, up 36.4% from January 1, 2020.

Arrears of payments for land amounted to Br14.7 million ($6.126 million) as of April 1, 2020 (11.8% of the total), up 1.4% from January 1, 2020.

Income tax arrears (8.7% of the total) decreased in the first quarter of 2020 by 37.7% to Br10.9 million ($4.542 million) as of April 1, 2020.

Real estate tax arrears amounted to Br6.4 million ($2.667 million) as of April 1, up 3.2% from January 1, 2020.

Excise tax arrears totalled Br4.6 million ($1.917 million), up 17.9% from January 1, 2020.

Arrears of other taxes and duties amounted to Br26.8 million ($11.168 million) as of April 1, 2020, up 16.5%.

Deferred arrears stood at Br97.5 million ($40.633 million), down 4.2% in 1Q20.

As reported, in 2019, Belarusian business entities’ arrears of payments to the state budget decreased by 34% to Br110.2 million ($45.926 million) as of January 1, 2020. End (Br2.3995/$1)

Tuesday forex session: ruble down 0.10% against dollar to Br2.4020/$1

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Following the bidding at the single forex session of the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction, the Belarusian ruble stood at Br2.4020/$1 to the dollar on May 26, down 0.10% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.

Following the bidding at the single forex session on Tuesday, the ruble stood at Br2.6260/€1 to the euro, down 0.49%; at Br3.3778/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, down 0.79%.

As previously reported, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on June 1, 2015 stopped the practice of fixing the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble to the basket of foreign currencies on a day-to-day basis and switched over to FX trading on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction.

The parties taking part in continuous two-way auctions at the BCSE are free to make bids and offers during the entire auction period, however deals will be made if the FX trading system bridges bids with relevant offers.

The weighted average rate of the US dollar, the euro and the Russian ruble shall be the National Bank’s official exchange rate of the relevant currency for the day that follows the day of trading.

At the moment, the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble is pegged to the basket of foreign currencies, with the share of the Russian ruble standing at 50%, the US dollar – 30%, the euro – 20%. End

Belarus’ crude oil output up 1.1% in Jan-Apr 2020 to 559,000 tonnes

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Belorusneft (Rechitsa, Gomel Oblast)–Belarus’ sole producer of crude oil–says its crude output increased 1.1% year on year in Jan-Apr 2020 to 559,000 tonnes.

In April, crude output was down 1.5% year on year to 135,000 tonnes.

As reported, Belarus plans to increase crude oil output by 1.18% year on year in 2020 to 1.7 million tonnes. In 2019, Belarus increased crude output by 1.19% year on year to 1.69 million tonnes.

Belorusneft was founded in 1966. The company specializes in exploration work, oil extraction, gas processing and offers a wide range of seismic exploration operations.

Belorusneft provides oil extraction service in Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Ecuador, facilitates crude supplies to Belarusian on refineries on a give-and-take basis. Belorusneft sells oil products via a proprietary network of refilling stations – the largest network in the country. End

Belarus’ telecom companies’ net profit down 25% in Jan-Mar 2020 to Br169.2m

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Belarusian telecom companies’ net profit decreased 25% year on year in Jan-Mar 2020 to Br169.2 million ($70.5 million at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus), the National Statistics Committee of Belarus (Belstat) said in a report.

The export of telecom services increased 13.6% year on year in Jan-Mar 2020 to $53.6 million; the import was down 4.8% to $34 million.

Telecom companies’ margins on sales of products, works and services were up 37.9% in Jan-Mar 2020 to compare with 36% in Jan-Mar 2019.

Tariffs for postal services rendered to legal entities and individual entrepreneurs increased in Jan-Mar 2020 by 5.9% year on year; long-distance telephone services – by 6%; local telephone services – same as in 2019. Tariffs for cellular telecommunication services increased 3.9%. End

Belarus’ farm output up 5.2%yoy in Jan-Apr 2020 to Br3.992bn 

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Belarus’ farm output grew by 5.2% on the year in Jan-Apr 2020 to 3.992 billion Belarusian rubles ($1.663 billion at the official exchange rate), the National Statistics Committee (Belstat) said in a report.

Sales of fattened cattle and poultry increased by 5.8% on the year in Jan-Apr 2020 to 565,000 tonnes; milk output grew 6.5% to 2.165 million tonnes, and egg output was down 2% to 1.134 billion.

The value of accounts payable in the agricultural sector stood at Br8.395 billion ($3.498 billion) as of Apr 1, 2020, down 1.2% year on year. Overdue accounts payable totalled Br2.606 billion ($1.086 billion), down 3.3% against Jan 1, 2020.

Accounts receivable amounted to Br1.629 billion ($678.891 million) as of Apr 1, 2020, up 1.4% against Jan 1, 2020. Overdue accounts receivable totalled Br437.5 million ($182.329 million), down 2.5%.

The share of loss-making agricultural companies as of Apr 1, 2020 accounted for 11.4% (149) of the total number to compare with 10.8% (141) as of Apr 1, 2019.

The total net profit earned by Belarus’ agricultural companies in Jan-Mar 2020 stood at Br197.3 million ($82.225m), down 24.3% year on year. End (Br2.3995/$1)

Belarus raises tobacco prices in Jan-Apr 2020 by 11.5%

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. Belarus raised consumer prices of tobacco products by 11.5% year on year in January-April 2020, the National Statistics Committee of Belarus (Belstat) reports.

Prices for tobacco products increased in Apr 2020 by 13.7% year on year.

Prices of tobacco products increased in Apr 2020 by 2.4% month on month, and by 8.2% from December 2019. End

NBB’s currency rates as of May 27, 2020

MINSK, May 26 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) set on May 26 the following exchange rates of the Belarusian ruble (Br) against foreign currencies for May 27, 2020.

  Currency   Br
1 AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR AUD 1.5906
1 BULGARIAN LEV BGN 1.3466
100 UKRANIAN HRYVNA UAH 8.9202
10 DANISH KRONE DKK 3.5326
1 U.S. DOLLAR USD 2.4020
1 EURO EUR 2.6260
10 POLISH ZŁOTY PLN 5.9046
10,0000 IRANIAN RIAL IRR 5.7190
100 ICELAND KRONA ISK 1.7067
100 JAPANESE YEN JPY 2.2310
1 CANADIAN DOLLAR CAD 1.7298
10 CHINESE YUAN CNY 3.3673
1 KUWAITI DINAR KWD 7.7709
10 Moldovan Leu MDL 1.3551
1 New Zealand Dollar NZD 1.4844
10 NORWEGIAN KRONE NOK 2.4181
100 RUSSIAN RUBLE RUB 3.3778
1 SDR (Special Drawing Rights) XDR 3.2712
1 SINGAPORE DOLLAR SGD 1.6931
100 KIRGHIZ SOM KGS 3.2016
1,000 KAZAKH TENGE KZT 5.8152
10 TURKISH LIRAS TRY 3.5439
1 BRITISH POUND STERLING GBP 2.9576
100 CZECH KORUNA CZK 9.7105
10 SWEDISH KRONA SEK 2.4959
1 SWISS FRANK CHF 2.4809

 

 

For additional information or enquiries, please, contact Mr. Vladimir Kremyanko, First Secretary (v.kremyan[email protected], tel. 011 405 29 334)