Belarus GDP Grew Slowest Since 2009 as President Blames Cabinet

Belarus’s economic growth fell short of the government’s target last year, the statistics committee said a day after President Aleksandr Lukashenko sought to pin responsibility for miscalculating goals on cabinet members.

Gross domestic product expanded 1.5 percent from a year earlier, down from 5.3 percent in 2011 and the weakest since 2009, the state committee in the capital, Minsk, said on its website today. The government had targeted growth at 5 percent to 5.5 percent last year.

“Believe me, it wasn’t me who set targets for the year, but these gentlemen with the signed documents, which will be stored in archives for a long time -- they suggested this plan,” Lukashenko told reporters yesterday.

Belarus has used its close economic ties with Russia to secure financial aid over the past two years as it grappled with fallout from the 2011 balance-of-payments crisis. A Russian-led $3 billion bailout helped the nation emerge from the downturn, with the government also ceding ownership of its gas-pipeline network to OAO Gazprom for $2.5 billion. The International Monetary Fund has called the former Soviet republic’s economic targets “inconsistent with stability.”

Belarusian inflation, which soared to 108.7 percent in 2011, slowed to 21.8 percent last year.