Belarusians should rely on own funds in housing construction in 2017
In 2017, the volume of new housing would be reduced to 3.5 million sq. metres, and the share of individual housing construction would gradually increase. In the past five years, the sate built about 5 million sq. metres of housing per year for citizens in need of better housing conditions. A new approach to the financing in the housing construction envisages improvements in the living conditions only for citizens who have sufficient own funds.
According to the Council of Ministers’ decision No 325 of April 21st, 2016, 4 million sq. metres of new housing will be built in 2016, and 3.5 million sq. metres in 2017 to 2020. By 2020, the share of individual housing construction will increase from 30% to 40% of the total volume of housing construction, and 80% of the funding for the housing construction should be from extra-budgetary sources. All apartment blocks by 2020 should be energy efficient. The state has allocated BYR 1.1 trillion for soft loans in construction in 2020, which is a significant reduction compared with BYR 4.8 trillion in 2016.
In 2011 – 2015, 25.8 million sq. metres of housing was commissioned, people funded circa 50% of the housing construction costs from own funds, and soft loans with a total worth of BYR 41.5 trillion were issued. As a result, housing availability for citizens has increased from 25 sq. metres in 2011 to 26.4 sq. metres per person in 2015. More than half of the new housing was built for those in need for better housing conditions.
The new approach to the housing construction is due to the lack of state budgetary funds and the need to restrict administrative lending to the economy. Soft loans in construction will be minimized, and available funds will be insufficient to ensure housing construction even for large families.
The state aims to stop funding the construction of apartment blocks, it would rather support individual housing construction, i.e. it will offer unused land close to major cities for individual construction. For citizens who have enough funds, land will be sold at cheaper as compared with the current prices.
Construction companies will focus on the construction of individual houses. The number of apartments built with soft loans will reduce significantly, creating some shortage on the housing and rental market. In subsequent years, the state will attempt to shift the financing of new housing fully onto citizens, including infrastructure, and will spend the saved funds on industrial modernisation and agriculture.
Belarus is set to abandon the state support in housing construction. State aid for the needy in the housing construction will be minimized and the volume of new housing will depend on funding available from people and their employers.
Following crackdown and arrests of participants in the spring protests, the authorities resumed arrests as punishment for participating in street protests in addition to fines, which for some time were the only punishment for political activity. On September 22nd, 2017, the riot police detained the Belarusian National Congress leader Nikolai Statkevich, the opposition politician was placed in detention centre on Akrestin street. On the same day, after serving seven days of arrest, another BNC leader, Vladimir Neklyaev, was released. He was sentenced for organising a street protest on September 8th against the West-2017 exercises. Other participants in the protest have been fined too. The authorities are likely to continue to use fines and arrests against political activists to punish for their protest activity.