Meeting to discuss Belarus’ banking sector

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Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko started the working week with a discussion of the situation in the country’s banking sector on 24 October.

Invited to attend the meeting were Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus Pavel Kallaur, First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Snopkov, Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration Maksim Yermolovich, and President’s Aide Valery Belsky.

The head of state set forth a number of issues before the participants of the meeting and suggested discussing a wide range of topics. They included the work of the banking system under sanctions pressure, settlements of economic entities in foreign trade operations, cooperation with banks in Asia, a region that is now actively developing and gaining worldwide importance. The issues discussed also comprised support for the real economy, availability of loans, inflation, and participation of the banking system in integration projects with the Russian Federation.

Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that unprecedented sanctions were imposed on Belarus. “We have actually worked under such sanctions for a year. We have to credit our economy, and especially the banking system, for surviving these sanctions. However, as I have said many times, one should by no means feel self-complacent. The first issue to discuss is how the banking system responded to this unprecedented aggressive sanctions pressure and how the banking system was mobilized,” the head of state said.

The second important issue identified by the head of state was measures to ensure the settlements of economic entities in foreign trade transactions. “It seems that we are dealing well with this issue as well,” he said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that the situation became more complicated and was more dependent on the partners - foreign banks. “Nevertheless, we are doing well. There are still some issues that need to be addressed. I see them when I visit enterprises and hear their request for help. I would also like to hear answers to how we are doing here,” the President said.

He noted that in the export-import operations 75% or more of settlements in the world are conducted with the use of the US dollar and euro. “They are toxic currencies for us,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Another important issue was to ensure the work of the real economy. “It is a never-ending problem: the National Bank is trying to pursue a tougher policy; the government and business entities are asking it be softer,” said the Belarusian leader.

“The availability of loans is the central issue we have to discuss with you. It pertains to the support of the real economy,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

In his words, Belarus once initiated a number of innovations in the banking system. “Belkart, ERIP, the financial information transfer system, then instant payment services. How are things going here?” the head of state asked.

“It is clear that the future belongs to Asia. Asia sets the agenda for global development today,” said the Belarusian leader.

He stressed that this area should be kept in focus. “How do we develop cooperation with Asian banks, Asian economic entities? What actions are taken by the National Bank in connection with the restructuring of the entire world economy for Asia? Aren't we missing the time here?” the President asked.

Another issues was about integration projects with the Russian Federation, whether everything was being implemented in accordance with the existing agreements.

“Inflation depends a lot on the National Bank, but not entirely on it. Inflation is price growth. This is a matter to be addressed at all the levels of government in the country,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

He added that the National Bank has traditionally been a determining structure in this matter.

The President asked about the National Bank's evaluation of the situation with inflation and price growth. “I would like to hear your assessment,” the head of state said.