Belarusian government may review state’s role in economic regulation

October 24, 2016 11:53

After ‘optimising’ the state employees in number, the Belarusian authorities seek to revise their functions. Perhaps, their intention is due to the lack of positive results from previous attempts to reform the state apparatus and due to the need to create a favourable environment for negotiations with external creditors. Nevertheless, the Belarusian authorities seem to be ready for some changes in economic regulations in order to create a positive environment for investors and creditors.

Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly Mikhail Myasnikovich have spoken in favour of reasonable bureaucracy.

In the past, Myasnikovich repeatedly raised the issue of state de-bureaucratisation, which however did not lead to significant changes in the economic regulation. An experienced state manager, Myasnikovich understands the existing conflict of interests, when state officials are not interested in cutting back their regulatory functions. The president is unlikely to overcome the inertia in the state apparatus and fully lift restrictions on business, however, some concessions are possible.

Amid the lack of opportunities to ensure 100% employment, the government will be prompted to accept some restrictions on its regulatory functions in the economy. For instance, Economy Ministry officials talked about allowing more types of activity without registering as a private entrepreneur. In all likelihood, by doing so they would aim to legalise shadow economy workers and to reduce the pressure on the population due to the enacted ‘social parasitism’ regulation.

Nevertheless, despite some possible reductions in regulatory activity of the state in the economy, the state will still be a major player in the economy and will continue dominating on the property market. In all likelihood, some liberalisation for business will be due to the need to redistribute excess workforce from state enterprises due to the ‘optimisation’.

Under the pressure of economic circumstances and requirements by external creditors, the Belarusian government may be ready to review the functions of state officials in economic regulation.

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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.