KEF-2015: Time to make Belarusian transition happen?

Recent events proved the importance of economic reforms not only for a Belarusian society, but also for the country’s leadership. On election day Alexander Lukashenka declared that he was ready to implement decisive reforms if they are supported by the majority of population. According to the opinion polls, almost 60% of Belarusians support some form of market alteration, while 40% advocate a decisive economic market reform.

Government representatives have stated that in the near future a program of structural reforms would be unveiled at the next All-Belarusian People's Assembly. They also confirmed the fact that Belarus wants to attract funding from the IMF within an extended credit facility (this kind of financing is granted for a longer period than usually accounted in Stand-By Arrangements, with longer final maturity of 10 years; moreover, this facility is conditioned on reforms that address country’s long-term structural economic problems). The chairman of the Belarus National Bank Pavel Kallaur and the First Deputy Finance Minister of Belarus Maxim Ermolovich in an interview with the Financial Times confirmed the need for comprehensive structural reforms in Belarus. They suggested that an effective system of social protection and greater flexibility of the economic authorities are needed in order for the reforms to be successful. While the need of the reforms is widely accepted, the question of when they will be implemented remains open.

Previous experience shows that there is a correlation between the length of the reform period and their success rate. Positive results are postponed if the reform process is extended, says Ivan Mikloš, one of the key authors of Slovak reforms in an interview for TUT.BY internet portal. Thus, according to Mikloš, “a reformer has to implement large-scale reforms fast, in order to yield most optimal results in a relatively short time frame”. What kind of reforms are planned by Belarusian economic authorities, what attitudes do international financial institutions, Belarusian economic experts and business professionals have towards these reforms, when the reform package will be launched – these issues will be discussed the “Belarusian Economy: At a Tipping Point” conference, the largest economic forum in Belarus in the last decade.