‘Macroeconomic policies should respond to the new environment. It is important to continue managing of credit and wage growth as they were deemed to be significant causes of instability in the past,’ stressed Sebastian Eckardt, World Bank Senior Economist for Belarus.
In a Special Focus Note on Turning around the Utility Sector, the World Bank outlines the importance of optimization of utility sector tariffs in line with the Government’s strategy to increase Belarus’ energy independence and promote efficient use of energy resources. Despite nominal increases, residential gas, electricity, and district heating tariffs have not kept pace with rising production costs, undermining financial viability of the utility sector. Moving tariffs to full cost recovery could result in cumulative fiscal and quasi-fiscal savings equal to about 2.5 percent of GDP. The World Bank suggests that these savings could be reallocated to different use, including targeted social assistance to mitigate the social impact of increased tariffs on poor and vulnerable households, for investments in energy efficiency, or to allow for reductions in industrial utility tariffs.
“It is important to have a consistent and comprehensive plan of structural reforms to boost productivity and make non-commodity exports more competitive. We believe that appropriate policy decisions today could reshape the long-term trajectory of the economy. The Bank works with the Authorities closely to advise on the design and implementation of structural transformation in a sustainable and inclusive manner,” stressed Mr. Young Chul Kim, World Bank Country Manager for Belarus.
Since the Republic of Belarus joined the World Bank in 1992, lending commitments to the country have totaled US$1.14 billion. In addition, grant financing totaling US$25 million has been provided to programs, including those with civil society organizations. The current investment lending portfolio includes five operations for a total amount of US$648 million.