Belarus registers 3.728 coronavirus cases, 36 deaths as of April 15, 2020
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 3.728 confirmed coronavirus cases as of April 15, 2020, 36 people died, the Ministry of Health of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.
The Ministry of Health did not specify the total number of hospitalized persons, only saying that 68 people needed artificial lung ventilation. As previously reported, 2,444 people were hospitalized as of April 14; 57 patients needed artificial lung ventilation.
As of April 14, nearly 76,198 tests for the coronavirus infection were made in Belarus, involving 24 laboratories. End
MINSK, April 15 – PrimePress. The Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) predicts a 24.1% year-on-year drop in mutual trade in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in 2020 compared to 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic impacts, the EEC says in a report.
According to the EEC, the EEU trade turnover stood at $61.03 billion in 2019, and may shrink to $46.3 billion in 2020.
Kazakhstan is likely to lead in this respect with a 31.9% decrease to $4.3 billion. Belarus may be second with a 29% drop to $10.3 billion. The EEC forecasts a 22.7% decrease in Armenia to $0.6 billion, 21.3% in Russia’s turnover with other EEU members to $30.5 billion, and 8.1% in Kyrgyzstan to $0.6 billion. End
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. The government of Belarus is not planning on providing direct financial assistance to business in the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Ministry of Economy of Belarus explains in its letter published on the probusiness.io that the state does not have money for that.
The Ministry of Economy promises indirect support for business, saying that certain measures have already been taken. However, some of them, such as resolutions No.183 and 184, have inflicted considerable damage on business. For example, the latter limited price increases in Belarus to 0.5% per month, which was done without consultation with the business community.
The ministry says, citing the draft presidential decree ‘On Support for the Economy’, that a list of most vulnerable lines of business has been made.
It is proposed to grant a deferment of taxes and fees to local budgets from April 1 to September 30, 2020, and deferral of rental payments. As expected, entrepreneurs and self-employed persons will be allowed to recalculate the single tax due to the suspension of their activities.
Enterprises will be given subsidies for bonuses to workers, who involuntarily work part-time, to bring their wages to at least the amount of the minimum wage. End
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. April 2020 and the first quarter of the year saw a deterioration of the economic situation in Belarus, growth of receivables, non-payments and a drop in companies’ revenues, reads the letter by the Belarusian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (BUIE) and the Belarusian Scientific and Industrial Association to the Ministry of Economy of Belarus, which contains summarized business statistics for January-April 2020.
According to the letter, the data do not fully illustrate the situation in the national economy, since the decline in the March turnover was partly covered by pre-crisis contracts. The final statistics will be available by the end of May 2020.
The Union says that car rental services, organizers of exhibitions and other public events, and the tourism business are hit the most.
“The possible scale of overall economic losses, including those incurred by small businesses, and the multiplier effect of the crisis in some individual sectors are of particular concern,” reads the letter.
The Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs proposes to declare tax holidays and deferments of deductions to the Social Protection Fund of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Belarus and subsequent deductions in installments in one or two years; reduce rental rates and take financial support and rehabilitation measures to assist the most affected business entities; to recognize force majeure that stems from restrictive measures in Belarus due to the pandemic as significantly affecting the possibility of exhibition, congress and other activities.
The Belarusian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and the Belarusian Scientific and Industrial Association addressed Ministry of Economy in mid-March 2020 with a package of proposed anti-crisis measures, expecting the government to consider deferments of deductions to the Social Protection Fund and access to liquidity for business entities, to reduce the number of inspections and stop supporting the agro-industry at the expense of business.
Chairman of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Alexander Shvets said after his meeting of Minister of Economy Alexander Chervyakov on April 9 that the government did not give answers to the anti-crisis proposals.
Prime Minister of Belarus Sergey Rumas said the government was supposed to finalize a package of proposals aimed at supporting businesses and submit it to the president on March 31. As of April 15, this package was not approved, and nothing is known about it. End
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. Co-Chair of the Republican Confederation of Entrepreneurship Victor Margelov says a new draft government resolution is likely to lift the restriction on selling price increases previously set at 0.5% per month, as requested by Belarusian business unions.
He says that instead of a general restriction on price increases, it is planned to introduce temporary regulation of prices for socially significant goods for up to 90 days by limiting producers’ profitability to the profitability in January-February 2020 (at or below 10% unless it was over 10% in January-February 2020). The maximum importers’ markup will be set at 10%.
The limit of profitability for retail trade can make up 15-30% depending on commodity item, for example, 15% for milk and dairy products, 20% for bread and bakery products, sausages and canned meat, and 30% for vegetables and apples.
“In fact, socially significant goods, to which the new price regulation will be applied, constitute 60-70% of the range of commodities in stores,” Margelov says.
Currently, the list of socially significant goods includes wheat flour, sunflower and rapeseed oil, sugar, salt, oatmeal without food additives, pasta that does not contain durum wheat flour, rice, buckwheat, rye and rye-wheat bread, meat (beef, pork, chicken and broiler chicken), chicken eggs, pasteurized cow milk and kefir from cow milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, baby food and some other goods (30 in total). End
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will consider providing Belarus with rapid financial assistance by the end of April 2020, the Ministry of Finance of Belarus said on April 15.
The National Bank of Belarus reported earlier that Minsk was negotiating with the IMF rapid financial assistance in the amount equivalent to about $900 million to support the national economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The IMF will consider the possibility of providing assistance before the end of April.
Minister of Finance of Belarus Maxim Yermolovich said that Belarus was also in talks with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank on financial assistance, and that the IMF Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) could be applied. Belarus’ quota in the IMF is SDR 681.5 million, and the country can receive $450 million per year in the next two years.
The World Health Organization reported a coronavirus infection (COVID-19) outbreak on March 11, 2020 and called it a pandemic. According to the latest WHO data, over 1.84 million coronavirus cases were registered worldwide, and more than 117,000 people have died. End
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. The World Bank (WB) has approved a €90 million loan to Belarus for the procurement of medicines and medical equipment to fight the COVID-19 infection, the Ministry of Finance of Belarus reported on April 15.
The funds will be used to purchase medicines and equipment for healthcare institutions, including respirators, masks, protective suits and goggles, test systems, ultrasound machines, artificial lung ventilation machines, oxygen concentrators, resuscitation vehicles, etc. “Given the shortage of some medical supplies on the global market, the procurement is possible through UN agencies,” reads the report.
According to the Ministry of Finance, all technical consultations on this project have been completed. “Belarus is carrying out domestic procedures required for the loan agreement.
Consultations were also held with the European Investment Bank (EIB) on a €50 million loan for the healthcare system. “A request for financing was sent to the bank together with a list of items proposed for procurement.
The Ministry of Finance also says that macro-financial assistance from the European Union is being considered. An application has already been filed with the European Commission. Also, several state-owned banks are in talks with international financial organizations on the soft-term financing to support small and medium businesses.
The World Health Organization reported a coronavirus infection (COVID-19) outbreak on March 11, 2020 and called it a pandemic. According to the latest WHO data, over 1.84 million coronavirus cases were registered worldwide, and more than 117,000 people have died. Belarus has officially registered 3,728 coronavirus cases in the country and 36 CIVID-19-related deaths. End
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. The Finance Ministry of Belarus conducted a bond offering on Apr 15, 2020 by facilitating direct placement of the 269th issue of government’s long-term dollar-denominated bonds worth $18.627 million on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE).
After the auction, the Finance Ministry limited the volume of bond placement to $50 million at 3.7% per annum. The par value was set at $1,000.
The maturity period of the 269th issue is 1,856 days. The bonds will mature on May 15, 2025. The rate of return is set for the entire maturity of the bonds.
Coupons will be paid twice a year on April 15 and October 15.
The ministry placed $160 million worth government bonds in the first quarter of 2020. The auctions of issues No.267 ($100m) and No.268 (€100m) held on March 19, 2020 were declared void. It is planned to place government bonds on the domestic market in the total amount of $600 million in equivalent in 2020. End
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. Net foreign assets of the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) amounted to U.S. $7.223 billion in Jan-Mar against Jan 1, 2020, down 18.1%, the National Bank of Belarus said in a statistical report.
The National Bank’s net foreign assets reduced following a decrease in gross foreign assets by 17% in Jan-Mar 2020 to $8.138 billion and a 7.9% decrease in foreign liabilities to $914.6 billion as of Apr 1, 2020.
Monetary gold accounted for $3.011bn of the National Bank’s gross foreign assets as of Apr 1, 2020 (up 5.5% since early 2020), deposits – $4.35bn (down 23.4%), credits – $61.6m (down 93.8%), securities (except shares) – $706.5m (up 3-fold), foreign exchange – $9.1m (down 79.8%), other assets – $0.071m against $0.002 as of Jan 1, 2020.
Credits accounted for $350.9m of the National Bank’s external liabilities as of Apr 1, 2020 (down 17.2% since early 2019), securities (except shares) – none as in the beginning of the year, deposits – $58.8m (down 2.6%), other liabilities – $505m (down 0.9%).
In 2019, net foreign assets of the Belarusian government and the National Bank of Belarus grew by 41.3% to U.S. $8.815 billion as of January 1, 2020. End
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. Net foreign assets of Belarusian commercial banks and non-banking credit-and-finance institutions amounted to minus U.S. $3.539 billion as of Apr 1, 2020, down 11.7% in Jan-Mar 2020, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) said in a statistical report.
Net foreign assets of commercial banks and non-banking credit-and-finance institutions increased by 9% in Jan-Mar 2020 to $2.017 billion, while foreign liabilities of banks grew by 10.7% to $5.556 billion as of Apr 1, 2020.
Deposits accounted for $1.103 billion of Belarusian commercial banks and non-banking credit-and-finance institutions’ net foreign assets (up 26.7% against Jan 1, 2020), credits – $68,.3m (down 82%), foreign exchange – $668.7m (up 77%), securities (except shares) – $127.9m (down 7.2%), other assets – $49.4m (down 41.6%).
Credits accounted for $4.766bn of Belarusian commercial banks and non-banking credit-and-finance institutions’ external liabilities as of Apr 1, 2020 (up 9.8% against Jan 1, 2020), deposits – $750.4m (up 14%), securities (except shares) – $0.00 compared with $0.00 as of Jan 1, 2020, other liabilities – $39.4m (up 96.1%).
In 2019, net foreign assets of Belarusian commercial banks and non-banking credit-and-finance institutions reduced by 24.1% to minus $3.168 billion as of January 1, 2019. End
MINSK, Apr 15 – 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 Br2.4506/$1 to the dollar on Apr 15, up 0.12% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.
Following the bidding at the single forex session on Wednesday, the ruble stood at Br2.6832/€1 to the euro, down 0.03%; at Br3.3209/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, up 0.71%.
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
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. Disagreements may arise between Belarus and Gazprom over a reduction in the price of Russian natural gas for Belarus, says Igor Yushkov, chief analyst at the National Energy Security Fund, expert at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation.
Belarus would like the gas price to be lowered to current price on the European spot market and, ideally, to strike off the export duty from current quotations and fix it in 2020 at least. Gazprom would prefer another option: to sign a standard commercial agreement with Belarus, as it does with European companies.
“In this case, the price Belarus in 2020 will be lower than $127 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters, which it pays now. Russian gas prices for Europe will likely remain low in 2021. But if the prices go up in Europe, so will the price for Belarus,” says Yushkov.
The prices of Russian gas on foreign markets are below $100 per 1,000 cubic meters now. Gas now costs around $70-80 on the European spot markets, and may fall even more by the summer. “The prices are low not only on the spot markets. Under Gazprom’s long-term contracts, they are dropping below $100 per 1,000 cubic meters. The price of Russian gas was around $98-99 in March, and will further reduce under Gazprom’s oil-pegged contracts, since there is a six- to nine-month lag, and the oil price has been falling considerably since February,” the expert says.
The gas price revision is an acute matter for Belarus. It’s stand in the price talks grows stronger as it is seconded by Armenia.
As previously reported, during the video conference with members of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council on April 14, President Lukashenko advocated accelerated energy price cuts and facilitated financial assistance within the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) amid the coronavirus pandemic. He also wants to optimize prices and terms of payments for energy commodities, primarily natural gas, without waiting for the EEU common energy markets launch planned for 2025.
Minister of Energy of Belarus Viktor Karankevich said on April 9 that his ministry initiated negotiations with Gazprom, seeking lower gas prices in 2020, since the world energy prices had fallen considerably. He said buying certain volumes of gas on exchanges at competitive prices was an option. Under the current agreement, Belarus will receive Russian gas in 2020 at $127 per 1,000 cubic meters. President Lukashenko said that $40-45 per 1,000 cubic meters would be a fair price for Belarus under the current conditions, taking into account logistics costs. End
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. Tabak-invest LLC (Minsk) began production of Winston XS Purple Mix cigarettes in Belarus under the JTI license, Japan Tobacco International S&D FLLC (JTI) reports.
Winston XS Purple Mix cigarettes are available in a super-compact format, featuring berry-flavoured capsules in the filter air cells and sweet filter paper. The tar/nicotine yield is 5/0.4 mg per cigarette.
The maximum retail price is set in April 2020 at Br3 ($1.22 at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus) per pack.
JTI started operating in Belarus in 1998. JTI was the first international company to start manufacturing international brand cigarettes at the facilities of Tabak-Invest Ltd. The Minsk-based factory produces Sobranie, Camel, Winston, LD, and Monte Carlo. End
MINSK, Apr 15 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) set on Apr 15 the following exchange rates of the Belarusian ruble (Br) against foreign currencies for Apr 16, 2020.
|1||New Zealand Dollar||NZD||1.4754|
|1||SDR (Special Drawing Rights)||XDR||3.3535|
|1||BRITISH POUND STERLING||GBP||3.0689|
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