1180 small industrial enterprises in one year
Presidential Decree No 6 has created considerably favourable legal frameworks for the development of small and medium enterprises and provided significant benefits for new businesses. However the Government concluded that these measures failed to make a difference to the regional development. It is a mistake to plan the number of enterprises to be set up and as a consequence, results are neutralized by sabotaging the implementation of such plan.
At a Council of Ministers’ meeting called to discuss the country’s socio-economic development Prime Minister Myasnikovich tasked to create at least 10 enterprises in each region employing at least 50 persons each.
Belarus is divided into 118 districts. To fulfill the order, by 2013 1180 enterprises need to be set up. Moreover, they have to be industrial enterprises. In the beginning of 2012 there were 11667 SMEs (employing 15 to 100 people) in Belarus, 3453 of them were industrial.
Prime Minister has not clarified why there was a need in such a huge number of enterprises. Also there is no indication of funding origin, while setting up one work place is assessed at USD 20-25 thousand. Therefore, in order to implement this task, about USD 1 billion is needed. The task ignores availability of labour force issue and the feasibility of having 10 enterprises in a region.
Private business always calculates its activities’ cost-effectiveness. Therefore the lack of initiative in setting up new enterprise should have been an indication to the government about existence of certain problems with creating new businesses. Instead, the government makes an administrative decision to set up the required number of enterprises.
While trying to fulfill the task, medium and large businesses might face fragmentation into smaller enterprises. Also there is a risk of creation ineffective enterprises, due to the lack of proper business plans and inefficient use of government funds by governmental agencies as local authorities will try to solve the task by seeking funds primarily in the local budget, and focus on quantity parameters rather than effective performance. The best solution would be to repeal this absurd decision or sabotage its implementation.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.