Government control expanded
By including enterprises with state shares exceeding 50% into state planning scheme, the government expands and clarifies its command authority in managing the economy. The state is trying to replace the owner, without worrying much about the economic feasibilities.
A Council of Ministers resolution No 1021 of November 13th, “Socio-economic development performance indicators in 2013”, sets performance targets for businesses, inter alia, for those with state shares more than 50%, and holding companies, where the state’s share exceeds 50%.
The state declared the intention to shift from quantitative indicators to qualitative. To implement this, it has defined seven tasks for enterprises with state shares exceeding 50% in capital shares and holding companies, in which HQ are state-owned with more than 50% shares. The projected indicators are: sales return, net income, exports, service exports, balanced foreign trade in goods, balanced foreign trade in services, the ratio between exports of goods and industrial production. Moreover, such targets could be set for businesses without the state’s shares in the authorized capital.
However analysis of the socio-economic development indicators in the territorial context suggests that in 2013, the emphasis again will be on quantitative indicators. The first of them is the GDP growth rate, which is too high for the current economic situation. Foreign direct investment is projected at USD 2 billion on a net basis. Bear in mind, that the only industry, which managed to attract investment over the 2012 plan was the “High-Tech Park”. Perhaps for this reason, the 2013 FDI plan for this industry has been increased from USD 41 million to USD 106 million.
De facto, this regulation establishes the government’s effective right to intervene in business activities of almost any enterprise. The acquisition of a minority stake in a company, where the state is one of the stakeholders, loses economic sense because its financial parameters could change significantly depending on projections, set by the state.
Thus, on the one hand, the state wants to attract investment and counts on business initiative, and on the other hand, sets strict frameworks for enterprises’ commercial activity.
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.