Enhancement of the administrative control
Decree No 114 of February 27, 2012, empowered the local authorities and the Pricing Policy Department of the Ministry of Economy of Belarus to organize ad hoc inspections of enterprises “in order to timely detect and suppress violations of anti-monopoly legislation”.
Moreover, such inspections could be organized regardless of the grounds stipulated in the legislation. The decree envisages severe penalties for violations of antitrust legislation and unfair competition.
The authorities believe such ad hoc inspections will allow them to detect and deter cases of violation of the legislation, including facts of price collusion, violations of prohibitions, and (or) restrictions on the sale of goods (works, services) introduced by the government in some administrative regions of Belarus. The Decree also envisages strengthening of the penalties for violation of the anti-monopoly legislation.
Therefore, any manufacturer could be accused of a monopoly (if share of sales is more than 30%) therefore tightening of the legislation could be interpreted as an attempt to treat high prices and inflation with increased repression.
This is a new/old logic of the authorities: instead of liberalization, privatization and the simplification of the business environment, opening markets to foreign competition, they introduce new restrictions and new (ad hoc) inspections. It contradicts the generally declared intention to liberalize the economy and casts the country two years behind in its attempt to liberalize the pricing policy.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.