Belarusian Trade Ministry is unlikely to defeat regional protectionism without changing principles of listing taxes to local budgets

July 26, 2016 0:35

According to the presidential decree No 188 of June 3rd, 2016, the Trade Ministry will be transformed into the Antitrust and Trade Ministry, which will be in charge of price regulation, consumer market control and regulation, ensuring equal conditions for all market participants. The ‘reform’ is likely reduce the time for administrative procedures when dealing with disputes between market participants, to simplify access to regional state trading enterprises for suppliers of all types of ownership, to enhance the state’s intervention in pricing. Regional protectionism arises from the principle of taxation at the place of the legal address of a supplier or a commercial enterprise, without changing this principle, the practice of administrative pressure on the market in order to replenish local budgets will remain inefficient.

Image: Дэвид Симонс, The Economist

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Death penalty discussion in Belarus: yet not ready for either abolition or moratorium
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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.