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Opinions & Interviews

17 Dec 2018

Belarus’ budget 2019 based on conservative scenario

Belarus’ budget 2019 based on conservative scenario

MINSK, 17 December (BelTA) – Belarus’ budget for the next year is based on the conservative scenario. The nominal volume of the national budget will not increase as compared to this year’s budget, Belarus Finance Minister Maksim Yermolovich told reporters, BelTA has learned.

According to the minister, the budget, which will be submitted to the parliament soon, envisages a frugal approach across all areas of spending. “The budget is predicated on quite hard scenario of economic development and imposes a saving mode for budget-financed organizations. But this does not mean that it will somehow reduce the quality of budget services. Social budget expenditure increases at the pace twice exceeding the inflation rate. We expect that the expenditures on the main budget items such as healthcare, education and social policy will increase by 6-7% in real terms,” Maksim Yermolovich noted.

He emphasized that, in general, the budget traditionally maintains a social focus, in spite of the difficulties related to the impact of the Russian tax maneuver in the oil industry on Belarus. “We are not reducing the social component. On the contrary, we are increasing it. Coupled with the expenses of the Social Security Fund, social spending will account for more than 60% of all funds available to the state. This is quite a large amount. First of all, these are social payments: salaries of public-sector workers, pensions, allowances, scholarships,” the minister noted.

“With regard to the budgetary subsidies and subventions to the regions, their volume will also increase as they are a conduit for social budget expenditures. Therefore, the increases in these expenses corresponded to the growth of the social budget,” Maksim Yermolovich noted.

The powers of local authorities are expanding. Regional administrations will be allowed to disburse certain types of subsidies on their own. Among them is, for example, subventions to mitigate the impact of the catastrophe at the Chernobyl NPP. “These expenditures will be disbursed at the suggestion of the regional administrations. This will give them greater flexibility in deciding how to use these resources,” the minister explained.

“As for the subsidies, we agreed to set some kind of medium-term guidelines. The draft budget, which is to be submitted to the parliament, contains a clause that envisages support to regions in 2020 not lower than in 2019. All unused funds will remain in the disposal of the local budget that received them,” said Maksim Yermolovich.

When asked about the saving focus of the conservative budget scenario, Maksim Yermolovich said that it pertains, first of all, to the management apparatus: government maintenance costs, additional expenditure of budget organizations. “These include travel and transportation expenses, running costs, which are not related to the provision of budget services,” he explained.

In general, all social standards will be executed in 2019. "All social standards will be met 100%. The budget will be socially oriented. The president’s instruction is the following: any revenue received above target in 2019 should be transferred to the reserve fund and spent frugally. The budget is stable and balanced,” Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Nikolai Snopkov told the journalists. It is expected that the document will be submitted to the parliament on 17 December.

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