National Bank of the Republic of Belarus


Background of Belarussian Banking System in Brief

In the aftermath of the October Revolution (1917) affiliates of the private banks in Belarus were nationalized, while the land banks were closed. On December 3, 1921, the Soviet of People's Commissars – SPC (Government) of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic decreed that a Belarusian Office of the State Bank should be opened in Minsk. A month later, on January 3, 1922, the Office became operational. That was the day on which the Belarusian banking system originated and began developing. Later, local branches in Vitebsk, Borisov, Bobruisk, Moguilev as well as agencies in Slutsk, Mozyr, Orsha, Klimovichi, and Polotsk were opened.

Following the creation of the USSR, the State Bank (Gosbank) of the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) was transformed into the State Bank of the USSR. The Belarusian Office was incorporated therein. In January 1927, the Gomel branch, formerly under the direct control of the State Bank of the USSR, was reassigned to the Belarusian Office.

In 1923–1925, affiliates of the All–Union joint–stock banks (Prombank, All–Union Cooperative Bank, and, since 1936, Torgbank) became operational. It was in those years that a network of local banks was formed. In 1923, the Gomel Workers' Bank was opened which was transformed into the local communal bank a year later. In 1925, the Belcommunbank was set up.

To pool the available funds for the purpose of lending to farms, district agricultural credit partnerships – Belarusian, Gomel, Vitebsk, Orsha, Kalinin, Bobruisk, Moguilev, Mozyr and Polotsk – were established. In 1924, the Belarusian partnership was transformed into Belselbank (Belarusian Agricultural Bank) which played a principal part in providing loans to agriculture. At the time, the State Bank and specialized banks devoted themselves entirely to rebuilding and reconstructing the national economy.

Tackling these key issues was only possible on the basis of hard currency. Therefore, with the commencement of NEP (new economic policy), the authorities set out to strengthen the monetary system. In 1922–1924, a monetary reform was enacted. As a result, a monetary system was established, whereas the State Bank turned into the national money issuing center and monetary circulation regulatory agency. Introduction of a sound currency was beneficial to production growth fostering the economy as a whole.

Consequent upon the restructuring of the banking system, the following entities were functioning in Belarus between 1932 and 1959: Communal Bank, offices with branches of the State Bank of the USSR, Prombank of the USSR, Selkhozbank of the USSR, and Torgbank of the USSR (until 1957).

Just prior to WWII, in 1940, there were 10 regional (provincial) offices and 184 branches of the State Bank in Belarus employing 4,087 staff.

The Great Patriotic War turned out to be a real endurance test both for the entire nation and Belarusian bankers. On June 25, 1941, the Belarusian Office of the State Bank was moved to Tambov (Russia), then, in November, to Karaganda (Kazakhstan), and in March 1942, to Gorky (Russia). The SPC of the USSR decreed the closure of the Office on September 9, 1943. It resumed its operation in October 1943, moving to Gomel in December and to Minsk in July 1944.

Arranging for money circulation has always been and still remains one of the major functions of the Soviet banking system, including its Belarusian component. The 1947 monetary reform was an important development in this respect.

Shortly after the end of the period of reconstruction and introduction of new economic management methods the need for both adjusting the monetary system and expanding credit ties between the bank and the national economy became evident. As early as 1959, reorganization took place. Specialized banks were disbanded, the State Bank and Stroibank of the USSR assumed their functions. Since 1959, the Belarusian banking system was represented by the institutions of the State Bank and Promstroibank of the USSR.

The banking system was subject to a major reorganization in 1987. Belarusian republican banks with their branches of the State Bank, Vnesheconombank, Savings Bank, Promstroibank, Agroprombank, Zhilsotsbank of the USSR were established and were operating on a basis of self–sufficiency and self–finance.

Acquiring independence by Belarus was a landmark in the development of the national banking system. The Laws "On the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus" and "On Banks and Banking Activities in the Republic of Belarus" were passed in December 1990. All institutions of the USSR banks within the Belarusian territory were declared the property of the country. The National Bank of the Republic of Belarus was established on the basis of the Belarusian Republican Bank of the USSR State Bank. Specialized state banks were transformed into joint–stock commercial banks – Belagroprombank, Belvnesheconombank, Belbusinessbank, Belpromstroibank, as well as Savings Bank. In the late 1980s – early 1990s commercial banks such as Belarusbank, Priorbank, Brestkombank, Kompleksbank and others came into being on the joint–stock and sharing basis.

Belarus: National Bank of the Republic of Belarus


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