Additional tax on working population would reduce Social Security Fund deficit but unlikely to support unemployed
The Labour Ministry proposed to create an insurance fund within the Social Security Fund for Population at 0.5% of the payroll, which would ensure that people, who had lost their job, received at least 60% of the most recent wage for up to six months. Taking into account current wage level and employment in the economy, the additional tax burden on enterprises would total circa BYN 125-130 million. In 2016, more than 100 000 people were laid off on a net basis, which means the planned amount would not cover the need in benefits. It would be reasonable to expect that the authorities continue to increase the tax burden on profitable enterprises. Unemployment benefits are likely to increase too, albeit without being tied to the most recent wage. Meanwhile, by reducing the Social Security Fund deficit, the authorities would reduce budgetary assistance to the Fund. Creating an insurance fund would not solve the unemployment issue, as only a sufficient number of jobs in the economy would make it possible to avoid the increased tax burden on enterprises.
The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.
In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.
There are no recent independent polls about people’s attitude about the death penalty in Belarus. Apparently, this issue is not a priority for the population. In many ways, public opinion about the abolition of the death penalty would depend on the tone of the state-owned media reports.
That said, the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church stand for the abolition of the capital punishment, however their efforts in this regard only limit to public statements about their stance. Simultaneously, the authorities could have influenced public opinion about the death penalty through a focused media campaign in the state media. As they did, for example, with the nuclear power plant construction in Astravets. Initially unpopular project of the NPP construction was broadly promoted in the state media, and eventually, according to independent pollsters, was accepted by most population.