Foreign investments in the Minsk region
In the first quarter of 2011 the Minsk region attracted $ 20 million in foreign direct investment, said the Chairman of the Minsk Regional Executive Committee Boris Batura during his press conference held on 13 May.
He noted that the primary goal was to attract $ 1 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2011. “All the calculations and 250 investment agreements, including more than 50 FDI agreements, make us believe that we will cope with this task”, said the Head of the Minsk region.
Optimism of the “governor” is questionable. Indeed, during April the volume of the FDI increased by about $ 13 million, which is almost double of the amount of the FDI attracted in January-February ($ 6.8 million). Nevertheless, the $ 20 million attracted in the first quarter is only 2% of the amount planned for the year. The Deputy Chairman of the Executive Committee for Economy Alexander Ermak assessed the situation more realistically at a field meeting, held in late April in Dzerzhinsk, “Reserves are a significant however our inefficiency and sometimes reluctance to draft high quality proposals for investors brings no results. If this work is not improved, the foreign investment in the region will remain a distant prospect”.
“Reserves are a significant however our inefficiency and sometimes reluctance to draft high quality proposals for investors brings no results. If this work is not improved, the foreign investment in the region will remain a distant prospect”.
Among the projects already underway in the Minsk region is the construction of a logistics center with the participation of the Lithuanian capital in Rakov, and the logistics center “Prilesje” near the National airport “Minsk-2” with the involvement of the Iranian capital. Also, the JSC “Amkodor” attracts large amounts of foreign investment in Zhodino Molodechno and Dzerzhinsk, according to Batura.
The Belarusian authorities are attempting to strengthen some elements of the ‘Soviet’ education to ensure the ideological loyalty of new generations to the state. Most likely, one of the major tasks of the educational reform is to prevent growing discontent with the existing education system among the population. The educational reform aims to strengthen centralisation and adjust the system to the needs of the public sector.
In Belarus, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Ministry of Economy would determine the university enrolment figures.
The Belarusian authorities do not seem to have a long-term vision of the educational reform. The education system changes depending on who leads the Education Ministry and has access to President Lukashenka. For instance, former head of pro-government communist party and Education Minister Igor Karpenko reintroduced some "Soviet" elements to the school and strengthened ideological components along with the de-politicisation of the curricula. Current generation of students and youth have not spoken against the authorities, unlike previous generations raised during the Gorbachev thaw and socio-political transformations of the 1990s.
In addition, the Belarusian authorities are attempting to adopt measures aiming to prevent discontent among the population with the Belarusian education system. The authorities are mobilizing those nostalgic for the USSR and propose to return to 5-marks grading system, school uniforms and reduced curriculum. The Belarusian leadership also aims to blur the growing social stratification in society and to relax social tension due to the growing income gap between the richest and poorest.
Should the authorities adopt plans to reduce university enrolment, they would re-certify universities in order to close some of them and would reduce competition from private educational institutions. The Belarusian leadership is attempting to adjust the education system to the needs of the real economy, to reduce pressure on the labour market and to cut government spending on higher education for specialists low in demand by replacing them with graduates of secondary vocational schools requiring less time to train.