Social Protection Fund may require additional budgetary funds to avoid deficit by late 2016
In H1 2016, the Social Protection Fund’s deficit totalled BYR 780 billion due to insufficient payments to the Fund. Payments to the Fund reduced due to mass lay-offs – in H1 2016 more than 80 500 people were fired. Such negative trends on the labour market are likely to persist, which may lead to the Fund’s budget deficit by late 2016. Indexation of pensions will be insignificant, the Fund may face austerity measures and the list of documents required for obtaining different social benefits may be extended in order to reduce recipients of the state aid. The Fund’s budget deficit may exceed BYR 1 trillion by the year-end and is likely to be recovered from the Fund’s own savings or from the state budget.
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.