Structural economic problems in the regions
The economic slowdown has set Belarus back to the mid-90s. Delays in payments and wage cuts have become more common, labour emigration figures rise by the year, anti-corruption cases have mushroomed, and there are shortages of certain goods, Nevertheless, social tension has not increased on the whole.
In the past week, regional media reports have mostly covered the upcoming privatization of some state-owned assets and about modernization projects, e.g. finished preparations for the Ostrovets NPP construction, release of a new BELAZ model, plans to start shale gas and oil extractions in the Gomel region, or about a new bridge built across the river in Mukhavets, Brest region.
Structural economic problems have been reported by half of Belarus’ regions, which could lead to a decline in living standards. Salaries have been delayed systemically in almost all regions.
Workers’ strikes are registered approximately once every two months. The authorities are preparing for state property privatization and gradual lay-offs. In addition, they have started to think about labour imports. The first precedent was created in the Vitebsk region. Vitebsk company managers were recommended to inform the economic departments of executive committees about the opportunity to employ Vietnamese workers in the fields by October 16th. (In the 1990s, almost all factories in Vitebsk employed Vietnamese citizens)
The Ostrovets NPP construction site has been prepared for construction, said the Ostrovets Executive Committee Chairman. The construction is said to be supported by local residents.
In the Gomel region, in the Pripyat Oil and Gas Basin shale gas explorations might be launched. The explorations might be held by a joint venture between the Belorusneft Concern and Toros Company (UK).
In October, Brest region Head K. Sumar opened a new bridge over the Mukhavets River: the first construction phase for the Western Bypass Brest.