Belarus is ready to relax business environment to boost employment
Drafts amendments envisaging simplification of rules for doing business have been published in Belarus. If adopted, the amendments would introduce a notification procedure for starting some kind of businesses; a moratorium on new taxes and fees would be announced for 2018-2020; proposals to further reduce the tax burden on business would be developed. The amendments are likely to be adopted following consultations with business representatives. If adopted, the amendments could lead to an increase in new regional SMEs in trade, catering and agro-ecotourism. In the short-term, the amendments are unlikely to have a significant impact on the labour market. In addition, a reduction in the number of audits and inspections would not affect government’s plans for listing penalties in the budget. Attempts to liberalize business could be linked to the inability of the state bodies to ensure full employment in Belarus. By relaxing business environment, the state is attempting to stimulate self-employment among the population in order to reduce the burden on the budget in anticipation of further layoffs at state 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.