Tuesday 25 April 2017 | 03:46

Stanislau Bagdankevich: The living standard will continue to fall in 2017, and possibly in 2018

17.01.2017  |  Economy   |  Aliaksei Jurych,  EuroBelarus
Stanislau Bagdankevich: The living standard will continue to fall in 2017, and possibly in 2018

In 2017, Belarus will have to pay about $ 5 billion debts, which may affect the level of welfare negatively.

According to the bank statistics, in 2016 not only did the bank deposits decrease, but also rainy day funds disappeared.

What deposits does the population have? How long will they last?

Stanislau Bagdankevich, the chairman of the National Bank replied to the questions of "EuroBelarus" Information Service.

- The Belarusians were saving money in the good years, but now we can witness impoverishment of the population, falling income rate, decreasing wages, inflation. And people are trying to maintain a certain standard of living by spending their savings.

Last year, the Belarusians sold about $ 2.4 billion than they bought. It turns out that about 700-800 million dollars out of the entire amount of money our citizens withdrew from their passbooks, the rest was kept in a cushion. It was a big surprise for me: people possessed a very large amount of money: more than a billion dollars.

- Is there any assessment of the resources saved by public?

- Only very vague estimates. Some experts believe that this sum can go up to 5 billion dollars. But there are rich people, and there are ordinary people. I can assess the situation on the basis of the declarations submitted by the Ukrainian officials. They have crazy sums. The Prime Minister has 2 million dollars in cash, other officials keep up the pace. It is likely that the Belarusians are in the similar situation as the Ukrainians.

- In your opinion, how long can the decline of living standard continue?

- I'm afraid it will continue in 2017, and possibly in 2018. But there are economic cycles of ups and downs that do not depend on regime even. It takes about 3-5 years for the cycle to repeat itself. Hopefully, there will be some activity by the end of the year. That is if we survive the absence of loans from either Russia or the International Monetary Fund.

- Is there such a scenario as well?

- Of course.

- So, Belarus has a chance to survive the current crisis and wait for the recovery, albeit a very slow one.

- I'm afraid that ordinary Belarusians are experiencing huge problems: their income is 500-600 rubles, the savings are spent, because the crisis was seen as a temporary phenomenon. And the situation is only getting worse.

- Are you saying the only way to survive is to tighten our belts even more?

- We need a program of economic recovery: lower taxes, give freedom to the citizens. There will be no upswing without freedom. 

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