In connection with signing of the agreement for the sale of shares of Belarusian Joint Stock Company «Beltransgaz» a heated discussion started in Belarusian media. The overwhelming majority of articles read that moving of Belarusian pipeline operator under the control of Russian company «Gazprom» will have disastrous consequences for the independence ofBelarus. The main reasons for such opinion is the idea, that with the going of the national gas transportation monopoly out of control of Belarusian authorities, the latter will be unable to conduct an independent energy policy, which will lead to total dependence of Belarus on Russia. The rise of wages to employees of «Beltransgaz» as well as purchasing new luxury cars for the official vehicle fleet was assessed as some kind of bribery by Belarusian independent observers and analysts.
These concerns seem to us to have more emotional assessment, rather than be based on facts.
Speaking about the growth of dependence ofBelarusonRussiain connection with the sale of shares in Joint Stock Company «Beltransgaz» it should be noted that this event does not affect the level of dependence ofBelarusonRussia, as all the gas in our country is imported fromRussia.
What concerns the loss of possibility to conduct an independent energy policy byBelarus, it’s necessary to take into account the following facts:
— Due to geographical factors our country don’t have direct access to international trade routes, which may provide direct gas supplies from producers;
— Currently in the countries, bordering uponBelarus(exceptRussia), there is no infrastructure to ensure gas supply from non-Russian producers. And taking into consideration the current financial crisis, it seems doubtful that such an expensive infrastructure will be created in the foreseeable future;
— Alternative gas supplies from Central Asia can be made only through theterritoryofRussia. Therefore, the control over the delivery of gas remains in the hands ofRussia;
— Belarusian gas transportation system will continue to operate according to Belarusian laws. And as the alternative gas suppliers have technical capacity to enter the Belarusian energy market, the rules of use of gas transportation system can be changed by law in order to ensure competition of the resource providers;
— Vulnerability ofBelarusin the face of a hypothetical “gas blackmail” is associated exclusively with the dominant use of this energy resource in the national energy balance and can be reduced through increased use of local fuels, coal and nuclear energy.
Considering the corporate policy of Joint Stock Company «Gazprom», it should be noted that this concern is de facto the transnational corporation. In this connection it is necessary to admit that the companies of this kind have common standards in the minimum wage and social security for their employees, as well as the centralized procurement of goods (including vehicles) and services for the entire system from one supplier.
Thus, the growth of wages of employees of «Beltransgaz» and the acquisition of new cars for the vehicle fleet of the company have nothing to do with bribery. These are measures to equalize the conditions of company units within one business-community.
It should be noted that Alexander Lukashenka’s reaction to the news about the raising wages of employees of Belarusian gas transportation system has been completely negative and has been accompanied the criticism of social policies of theRussian Federation. The latter can be explained by a feeling of extreme disappointment by the fact, that so-called “Belarusian model” of social and economic development, that during the reign of Alexander Lukashenka was opposed to Russian one, turned out to be completely untenable. In fact, a sort of competition between these two models, coupled with firm confidence in victory of Belarusian version of capitalism, was one of the bases of the combination of ideas, slogans and plans, which is called the “Belarusian ideology” (though, the Belarusian state ideology hasn’t been formed even now).
In general, the negative reaction to the fact that several thousand of Belarusian families can greatly increase their income in the time of crisis is really out of place. All the more the fall of people’s income as a result of devaluation and inflation is an exceptional achievement of Belarusian authorities, who in fact in the early months of the crisis did nothing to minimize the negative effects, although they had such possibility.
In our opinion, the sale of shares of Belarusian Joint Stock Company «Beltransgaz» is extremely politicized. This may be connected with both the need for internal political process and the simple ignorance of the functioning of transnational corporations by the commentators considered to be experts and analysts.
Meanwhile, we confirm all that was published in our Analytical Report for November, 2011 and characterize the transaction of the sale of «Beltransgaz» as:
— Connected with signing agreements in political and defense areas;
— Quite voidable in terms of Belarusian legislation. «Beltransgaz» was sold at the price, that is lower than the real one;
— Politically vulnerable because of challenging the legitimacy of the government, and as a consequence, all the commitments and agreements signed by it.